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Copa del Ray Review: Neville Gets First Win As Valencia Reach Last 16

gary-neville-valenciaGary Neville picked up his first victory as a head coach at the third attempt as Valencia eased into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a 2-0 win over Barakaldo on Wednesday.

Already leading 3-1 from the first leg against the Basque side from the third tier of Spanish football, Santi Mina ensured there was to be no unwanted shocks for Neville when he headed home just his second goal for the club after eight minutes.

Neville handed Alvaro Negredo his first start since early October after the former Manchester City striker fell out of favour under previous coach Nuno Espirito Santo and then suffered appendicitis.

However, the Spanish international’s eye for goal looks to have returned as he slotted home his first strike since August just after the half hour mark.

Elsewhere, last season’s beaten finalists Athletic Bilbao cruised into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday with a 6-0 thrashing of lower league Linense to seal a 8-0 aggregate win.

Ernesto Valverde named a surprisingly strong side and was rewarded with second-half goals from Javier Eraso, Borja Etxeita, Kike Sola, Raul Garcia and Mikel Rico adding to Oscar de Marcos’s early opener.

Eibar produced a stunning fightback from a 3-0 first leg deficit to beat 10 man Ponferradina 4-0 to claim their place in Friday’s draw.

Getafe appeared to have turned their tie around, overcoming a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in the opening 45 to lead 3-0 on the night at half time. But Lass Bangor’s second half strike was enough to seal Rayo Vallecano’s place in the last 16 on away goals with the match ending 3-1, and the teams level on aggregate at 3-3.

Second division Mirandés produced the only upset of the round so far with a 1-0 win at La Liga strugglers Malaga to back up their 2-1 first leg lead.

Las Palmas squeezed past Real Sociedad 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at Anoeta.

The victorious sides join holders Barcelona, Sevilla, Espanyol, Real Betis, Deportivo La Coruna and Cadiz, who were gifted their place in the next round when Real Madrid were thrown out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player, in the last 16.

Thursday night sees Atlético host Reus (2-1 first leg), Villarreal play Huesca (2-3), Celta take on Almería (3-1) and Granada face Leganés (1-2).