sport

Real earn first-leg victory

Real Madrid earned a 2-0 lead over Valencia in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Madrid rode their luck on a number of occasions against in-form Valencia but the victory was a welcome and much-needed boost in light of the champions' poor league campaign, where they already trail leaders Barcelona by 18 points.

Both Madrid and Valencia had decent chances to take the lead before Jose Mourinho's side got their noses in front in the 37th minute when Karim Benzema latched onto a pass from Sami Khedira before sliding a low shot past Vicente Guaita.

Valencia forward Jonas spurned a wonderful opening to draw his side level in the 66th minute, and seven minutes later Madrid doubled their lead when Los Che winger Andres Guardado inadvertently turned Fabio Coentrao's cross into his own net under pressure from Gonzalo Higuain.

Cristiano Ronaldo had two great opportunities to increase Madrid's lead late on but on both occasions he was denied by brilliant saves from Guaita.

If Madrid can hold on to their advantage in next week's second leg at the Mestalla then they could meet arch-rivals Barca in the semi-finals. Cup holders Barca play the first leg of their quarter-final against Malaga at the Nou Camp tomorrow.