Sevilla, Celta among top-tier teams advancing in Copa

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MADRID (AP) — Struggling Sevilla goes into the World Cup break on a positive note after beating sixth-tier Velarde 2-0 to advance to the second round of the Copa del Rey on Sunday.

Tanguy Nianzou scored in the first half and Rafa Mir found the net in the 90th minute for Jorge Sampaoli’s team, which sits in the relegation zone in the Spanish league.

Sevilla had won only one of its last seven games in all competitions. It was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League after a disappointing campaign. Sampaoli took over from Julen Lopetegui but still hasn’t been able to put the team back on track.

“Now we have to prepare, evaluate everything very well and see what happens going forward,” Sampaoli said after Sunday’s win in which Sevilla dominated but only sealed the result after Mir’s late goal.

Sevilla had nearly 90% of possession against Velarde, which had only one attempt on goal in the entire match — and it was not on target. Sevilla had more than 30 attempts of their own.

The first round of the Copa del Rey is played in single-elimination games at the home of the lower-tiered teams. The four teams that don’t have to play at this stage are defending Spanish league champion Real Madrid, defending Copa del Rey winner Real Betis, Copa runner-up Valencia and third-division champion Racing Santander.

First-division club Cádiz, which is second-to-last in the Spanish league, conceded a stoppage-time goal in a 3-2 loss at third-division Real Unión in the first upset involving a top-tier team.

Celta Vigo routed sixth-division Algar 6-1, with six different players scoring to end the team’s seven-game winless streak in all competitions. Celta is one point ahead of Sevilla in the Spanish league, just outside the relegation zone.

Other top-tier clubs to advance Sunday included Girona and Rayo Vallecano.

On Saturday, Atlético Madrid, Villarreal, Mallorca, Osasuna, Espanyol and Valladolid also won against lower-tier opponents. Elche, which is in last place and winless in the Spanish league after 14 rounds, got its first victory of the season after beating Alcora.

Athletic Bilbao, which reached fourth place in the league before the World Cup break, played fourth-tier Alzira later Sunday. Athletic holds 23 cup titles, second only to Barcelona’s 31.

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