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European football Sport

Real Madrid crash out of King’s Cup

European champions Real Madrid have now failed to reach the Cup semi-finals for the last three years

Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Wednesday to crash out of the King’s Cup at the quarter-final stage 4-3 on aggregate in another major setback for the struggling European champions.

Real twice fought back to equalise on a rainswept evening in Galicia but it was not enough to save them from being eliminated in a knockout competition for the first time under Zidane who oversaw a Spanish record 40-game unbeaten run before successive defeats this month.

An own goal from Brazilian defender Danilo put Celta ahead in the 44th minute but Cristiano Ronaldo levelled for Real by lashing in a free kick from 28 metres in the 62nd.

Danish international Daniel Wass sealed Celta’s place in the semi-finals with a shot from the edge of the area in the 85th minute before Real substitute Lucas Vazquez ensured a nervy finish by equalising with a diving header.

Real have now failed to reach the Cup semi-finals for the last three years, losing to Atletico Madrid in the last 16 in 2015 and suffering a humiliating expulsion from last year’s competition for fielding an ineligible player.

Injuries to defenders Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo forced Zidane to deploy midfield anchor Casemiro at centre back while Isco and Mateo Kovacic joined Toni Kroos in the middle in the absence of Luka Modric.

Isco spurned an early opportunity to fire Real ahead while Ronaldo missed a gilt-edged chance, hitting the near post from close range after Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez had repelled the Portuguese forward’s header.

Celta made a slow start but had Real on the ropes by the end of the first half and after Aspas and John Guidetti fluffed clear chances they went ahead when Danilo knocked the ball back into his own net after Kiko Casilla had saved from Guidetti.

Ronaldo made amends for his earlier misses with a stinging free kick and Real captain Sergio Ramos almost sent the tie into extra-time when he headed Toni Kroos’s whipped free kick inches wide of the near post.

Earlier on Wednesday, Atletico Madrid reached the semi-finals for the first time in three years after coming from behind to draw 2-2 at Eibar in an action-packed second half on Wednesday, advancing to the last four 5-2 on aggregate.

Jose Gimenez headed home from a corner in the 49th minute to put Atletico four goals up on aggregate following last week’s 3-0 win at the Vicente Calderon but Sergi Enrich levelled in the 73rd minute on the rebound after Pedro Leon had hit the post.

Leon’s half-volley gave Eibar the lead in the 80th minute but the minnows still needed three goals to reach the semis and Juanfran’s chip in the 85th confirmed Atletico’s progress.

Atletico and Celta joined Alaves in the last four after the Basque side beat Second Division side Alcorcon 2-0 on aggregate on Tuesday.

Holders Barcelona will be looking to reach the Cup semis for the seventh consecutive year when they host Real Sociedad on Thursday having won the first leg 1-0.

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