MADRID (AFP) – Espanyol have one foot in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey after a surprise 3-1 win over Europa League holders Sevilla on Thursday.
Sevilla came into the game on an unbeaten 10-game run that had seen them rise to fourth in La Liga, but coach Unai Emery paid for making a number of changes as Espanyol thoroughly merited their win.
Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo continued his fine recent form with a sumptuous strike into the top corner to give the Catalans an early lead.
Captain Sergio Garcia then converted from the penalty spot after Alejandro Arribas had been harshly adjudged to have handled inside his own area 12 minutes from time.
Moments later Garcia turned provider as Lucas Vazquez rounded off a swift counter-attack with a precise low finish.
However, Sevilla’s top scorer Carlos Bacca came of the bench to give the Andalusians hope for the return leg next Thursday when he volleyed home in stoppage time.
The winners of the tie will face Malaga or Athletic Bilbao, who played out a 0-0 draw in their first leg on Wednesday, in the last four.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the draw, Barcelona and Villarreal take 1-0 leads into the return leg against Atletico Madrid and Getafe respectively.