Thursday, March 23 2023

MADRID (AP) Girona became the first top-flight Spanish team to be upset in the Copa del Rey’s round-of-32 on Thursday, while Atletico Madrid had to fight back for victory at another minnow.

Girona, which is 13th in the Spanish league, was upset 2-1 at the fourth-tier Cacereno in western Spain.

After Girona had equalized to make it 1-1, Ivan Fernandez scored with a superb strike from outside the area to thrill the modest club’s fans. Girona still had half an hour to respond but the hosts held firm.

Atletico almost suffered another surprise before rallying for a 3-1 win at Arenteiro, which had beaten first-division Almeria in the previous round.

Diego Simeone was without France’s Antoine Griezmann and Argentina players Nahuel Molina and Angel Correa after their teams reached the World Cup final. But he did have all his Spanish internationals and most of his regular starters, except for Joao Felix, who the club said was ill.

Arenteiro, a club in rural northwest Spain playing in the fourth tier, went ahead through Markitos in the 43rd.

Yannick Carrasco quickly leveled with a penalty, but the hosts were energized by goalkeeper Diego Garcia’s save of another penalty by Alvaro Morata.

The big club only took control in the 77th when Pablo Barrios scored from outside the area for the 19-year-old’s first goal with Atletico. Carrasco added a third to complete his brace in injury time.

This week’s Copa del Rey games are the first involving teams from the first division since they stopped play for the World Cup.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Betis and Valencia have had byes through the first two rounds because they qualified to play in the Spanish Super Cup. The quartet will now join in the round-of-16.

The Spanish league starts back up again on Dec. 29.

AP World Cup coverage: and


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