ROUND OF 16
The last-16 ties at the 29th PAMESA LaLiga Promises Santander National Tournament kicked off at 10:00 (CET) with the eagerly anticipated showdown between Real Madrid and Valencia CF. The Blancos came into the tournament as reigning LaLiga Promises Santander International champions after having taken the crown in Maspalomas, but the Valencians ran out 2-0 winners here to send the Madridistas crashing out.
RCD Espanyol recorded a 3-1 win over Athletic Club, whilst Sevilla FC and Real Betis claimed
3-0 victories over Rayo Vallecano and CA Osasuna respectively. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona won their games by a one-goal margin, with the Rojiblancos squeezing past Elche CF in a 1-0 success and the Catalans seeing off Cadiz CF courtesy of a 2-1 triumph.
Elsewhere, the meetings between Granada CF and Getafe CF and Villarreal CF and RC Celta turned out to be tightly contested affairs. Both ties ended goalless and had to be decided on penalties, where there was, once again, very little separating the sides. The shoot-out involving tournament hosts Villarreal produced a moment that’ll live long in the memory as the Yellow Submarine’s number 9, Miguel Soria, converted the winning spot-kick with a Panenka-style penalty.
The results of these last-16 ties meant that the quarter-final line-up was as follows: Atletico v Valencia, Real Betis v Granada, Espanyol v Villarreal, and Barcelona v Sevilla.
Atletico and Valencia were tasked with getting the last-eight action underway in a game that also went to penalties. The Che skipper, Sergio Martinez, led by example as he stroked home the decisive spot-kick to secure Valencia’s passage into the semi-finals.
Real Betis again delivered the goods and proved that they’re serious contenders for the 2022 LaLiga Promises Santander crown as they overcame a dogged Granada side. The Sevillians’ entertaining, easy-on-the-eye football has made them one of the teams to beat at this year’s event.
Espanyol and Villarreal played out what was quite possibly the best spectacle so far. The Pericos ultimately clinched a semi-final berth, but were made to dig deep after the hosts laid siege to their goal. Indeed, in the dying stages, the Castellon outfit were denied as a sublime free-kick effort came crashing back off the woodwork.
Next up was a shoot-out that was enough to put even the most steely of nerves to the test. Barça and Sevilla served up a hard-fought stalemate that failed to trouble the scoreboard and the last semi-final spot would also have to be decided from the spot. It was time for the Barcelona goalkeeper, Aitor Cazorla, to shine as he tucked home his penalty, before saving a spot-kick in a shoot-out in which the Blaugranas ran out 7-6 winners.
All of this means that the semi-finals will see Betis lock horns with Valencia and Barcelona do battle with Espanyol in a bid to clinch a place in this year’s showpiece.
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