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Iñako Diaz-Guerra | 31/01/2013
Atlético Madrid took an important step towards the Copa del Rey final by narrowly beating Sevilla 2-1 in a crazy semi-final first leg at the Vicente Calderón.
All three goals came from penalties, all awarded for handballs, and by the end of the game Sevilla were reduced to nine men, with Fernando Navarro's straight card with five minutes to go following Emir Spahic's expulsion, for two bookings.
Atlético finished the match with 10 men, with Diego Godin given a straight red card for the handball which lead to Sevilla's penalty.
For the first half hour the two sides simply exchanged blows, one team imitating the moves of the other. It made for difficult viewing, but once Sevilla sat back, the hosts took charge and began creating opportunities, with Adrian and Diego Costa both showing purpose in the attack but failing to take their chances. The Brazilian narrowly failed to make contact with a cross from his team-mate and then squandered the best chance of the game so far, scuffing his shot wide when he just had goalkeeper Beto to beat.
Sevilla's best effort in the opening period came when Alvaro Negredo tried an audacious shot from over 30 yards but Thibaut Courtois was on guard to tip it over the bar.
Atlético continued to take the initiative after the restart and were awarded a penalty on 49 minutes when Spahic inexplainably slapped the ball away in the box, appealing for a foul. He was punished with his second yellow of the game and sent off, while Diego Costa cooly put the penalty away.
Unai Emery's side appeared to opt for a cautious approach with 10 men, with defender Botía being brought on for Hedwiges Maduro, but they were soon awarded a penalty of their own when Godín blocked Negredo's goalbound shot with his hand. Whether it was intentional or not was debatable, but the referee had no doubts, awarding the penalty and sending the Uruguayan off.
Negredo calmly scored from the spot and Sevilla had the chance to kick their opponents when they were down. They didn't take it. Rakitic sent a shot agonisingly wide and then Navarro repeated Spahic's earlier error. He went to ground appealing for a foul on Cebolla Rodríguez that never was and handled the ball while it was on the floor.
Diego Costa made no mistake again from 12 yards and then with five minutes to go ran through on goal only to be fouled by Navarro, who was given his marching orders.
Atleti did not have enough time to make the advantage count and this action-packed game finished 2-1. Advantage Atlético.