Soccer-Real ease past Espanyol into King's Cup semis


MADRID, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Real Madrid set up a King's Cup semi-final against holders Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao when they beat 10-man Espanyol 1-0 in their quarter-final, second leg on Tuesday for a 2-0 aggregate success.

Real lost 2-1 to Atletico at their own Bernabeu stadium in last year's final and will be keen to avenge that bitter defeat, which meant they ended last season without any silverware, if they face their city rivals in the last four.

Atletico have a 1-0 advantage over Bilbao from last week's first leg at the Calderon and play at the Basque club's new San Mames arena on Wednesday.

Real were quickly into their stride on a chilly night in the Spanish capital and their Spain playmaker Xabi Alonso unlocked the Espanyol defence with a magisterial seventh-minute pass.

Forward Jese sped clear of the Espanyol defence before clipping a clinical effort into the net past goalkeeper Kiko Casilla from a tight angle.

Casilla made several fine saves to deny Cristiano Ronaldo but any faint hope Espanyol had of getting back into the tie disappeared when midfielder Victor Sanchez earned a second yellow card and was sent off 13 minutes from time.

Real keeper and captain Iker Casillas barely touched the ball and Carlo Ancelotti's side have now gone eight matches without conceding a goal, a club record.

The first leg of the semi-finals is next week with the return a week later.

On the other side of the draw, record King's Cup winners Barcelona have a 4-1 advantage when they host Levante at the Nou Camp on Wednesday and would play Real Sociedad or third-tier Racing Santander in the semi-finals.

Sociedad are 3-1 up thanks to their victory in San Sebastian last week and the Santander players have threatened to boycott Thursday's return in protest over unpaid wages. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris)

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