Sevilla beats Villarreal to reach cup semifinals

Seville: Sevilla reached the Copa del Rey semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons after beating Villarreal 3-0 yesterday and 6-3 on aggregate.

Villarreal needed victory at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium but saw its hopes deflated from the 10th minute following Renato`s opener.

Villarreal created opportunities but the holders put the outcome beyond doubt with goals from Frederic Kanoute and Alexis Ruano within five minutes of the restart.

Sevilla plays either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid next, with Madrid leading 3-1 after the first leg going into tomorrow`s match at the Vicente Calderon stadium.

Sevilla defender Sergio Sanchez returned to action for the first time since undergoing heart surgery to correct a condition that sidelined the 24-year-old defender a year ago.

Sevilla is 10th in the league, while Villarreal is behind only Barcelona and Madrid in the standings. However, the Andalucians remain unbeaten in cup competition.

Renato ensured Alvaro Negredo`s goalbound shot went over the line as Sevilla made the most of a deflected pass that struck a Villarreal defender.

Jozy Altidore`s high shot in the 16th minute was one of the visitor`s few chances early on before it found its rhythm. Teammate Gonzalo Rodriguez came closer with a header onto the crossbar in the 26th, while Kanoute nodded a dangerous cross wide at the other end in the 33rd.

Ruben "Cani" Gracia then curled a shot wide of the far post as Villarreal looked for an equalizer and Altidore led a breakaway in the 38th minute, with the United States striker feeding Giuseppe Rossi, whose shot was saved by Javi Varas.

Kanoute began to put the contest out of Villarreal`s reach, though, in the 47th minute when the Mali striker easily reached Ndri Romaric`s corner to head home.

Alexis, who scored in the first leg, found the net again three minutes later when he pounced on another corner from Romaric.

After a weak header from Altidore in the 55th, the home side controlled the game and kept alive its hopes of a third domestic cup since 2007.

Sanchez played well on his return to the game. The Spanish player hadn`t featured since being diagnosed with a heart condition in early January 2010.

Another Sevilla player, Antonio Puerta, collapsed during a 2007 league game and died three days later following a prolonged cardiac arrest at age 22. Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque died of heart failure in 2009 in his team`s hotel in Italy. He was 26.

Spanish league leader Barcelona is 5-0 up before today`s second leg at second division leader Real Betis, while Almeria has a 1-0 advantage over Deportivo La Coruna.