Yunus Musah went the distance for Valencia in their unnecessarily narrow win over third-tier opposition while Matthew Hoppe saw late action for Mallorca in their impressive victory against Espanyol.
RCD Mallorca 2 – 1 Espanyol
Matthew Hoppe once again had a late cameo for Mallorca, this time helping them lock down a narrow win over La Liga rivals Espanyol in their impressive Copa del Rey Round of 16 victory on Saturday.
In his total of 13 minutes on the field – the final seven of regulation and six in added time – the American only had five touches while Espanyol pushed hard for an equalizing goal, however provided several moments of danger and pressure on the visitors as they put all numbers forward.
Despite a late scare from their visitors, Mallorca were always in control, already pulling ahead just past the half-hour when Takefusa Kubo nailed an impressive free kick from 25 yards out to the upper right corner of Diego López’s goal.
The hosts doubled their advantage at the hour mark, again taking advantage of a set piece after Abdón headed in a fine corner delivered from Salva Sevilla.
This was, however, short-lived, with Espanyol pulling it back to a one-goal difference only two minutes later, catching the defense sleeping with a quick free kick that found Javi Puado sneaking in behind the Mallorca back line for a surprisingly easy finish, which was confirmed following a long VAR review.
Hoppe entered the game in the 83rd minute for the goalscorer Abdón, and almost immediately pressured the opposing defense when he broke free with the ball headed into the Espanyol area, but was not fast enough to beat his defender on his way towards goal.
The American played his part to lock down the result in the final minutes, in particular getting forward to threaten a header in the 88th minute, then almost immediately come close to forcing Espanyol’s Javi Puado into a yellow out of frustration moments later.
In the end, Mallorca held on to secure the win after a remarkable seven minutes of added time, with Espanyol’s Adria Pedrosa earning an unnecessary red card in the final seconds.
Mallorca await the quarterfinal draw, likely to take place on Friday, to find out their opponent for the next round occurring in early-February. Their next outing, and last before the international break, will be on Saturday with a visit to Villarreal.
Atlético Baleares 0 – 1 Valencia
Yunus Musah was once again called upon to be the main main in Valencia’s Copa del Rey run, putting in yet another impressive performance as they held on for a narrow win against third-tier Atlético Baleares on Sunday afternoon.
Musah lined up on the right side of Valencia’s formation, generally putting forward the strongest performance of the team over the balance of the 90 minutes, with 63 total touches, a 79% passing accuracy, three total shots, and five of eight duels won.
In the opening seconds, Valencia essentially did all they needed to do in order to reach the final eight, scoring the lone goal of the game after 39 seconds. A ping-pong game of headers caught the Baleares defense off-guard, and dropped the ball at the foot of Marcos André as he streaked into the area. He made no mistake with the chance, hitting his off-balance shot from five-yards out for the 1-0 lead.
Even though this fast start would suggest an imminent Valencia blow-out, the hosts put in a tough, plucky performance, doing just enough to keep their visitors from adding to their total, even if they hardly looked up to the task of finding an equalizer.
Later in the first half, Musah had a flick from the left side which forced the Baleares keeper Xavier Torres into a save, then later teamed up well with Gayá, sending in a dangerous cross that forced Torres back into action to clean up the shot.
The second half was a slog to the finish, with the final result never in doubt but the overmatched visitors doing their best to make Valencia work hard for their reward. Musah did earn a yellow deep in injury time, however it was of no consequence to the final result, with the visitors taking the deserved, even if hard-fought victory.
Valencia will find out their quarterfinal opponent late next week, but in the meantime begin a tough pair of games before the international break that sees them hosting second-place Villarreal on Wednesday then visiting fourth-place Atletico Madrid three days later.