Barça, Sevilla squeeze into semis
© AFP

Runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona edged into the semi-finals of the Spanish Cup thanks to a narrow 3-2 home win over city rivals Espanyol. In today's other quarter-final, Sevilla dumped out holders Valencia on away goals thanks to a dramatic last-minute strike from French defender Sebastien Squillaci. Barcelona will now face Real Mallorca in the last four, while Sevilla will meet Athletic Bilbao.

Barcelona had been held 0-0 in the first leg of their tie against their neighbours, but coach Pep Guardiola displayed his confidence ahead of the return match by leaving in-form strikers Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o on the bench at the Nou Camp.

Barça took the lead in the 35th minute, after Jonathan Sorino had earlier spurned a great chance to put the visitors ahead. Bojan Krkic broke the deadlock when he tucked the ball into the net after Espanyol goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez had spilled Sylvinho's speculative shot.

Bojan doubled the lead two minutes into the second half when he raced on to Xavi's pass and lifted the ball over the onrushing Alvarez, with central defender Gerard Pique then heading home Dani Alves's right-wing cross less than ten minutes later.

Espanyol pulled a goal back almost immediately, when Ferran Corominas's effort from the edge of the box cannoned off Barça captain Carles Puyol and looped into the net. With just over 20 minutes remaining substitute Jose Maria Callejon set up a grandstand finish, lashing home a shot from 25 yards that had too much power for Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pintos.

Barcelona were rattled, but they managed to keep their opponents at bay before Espanyol substitute Daniel Jarque was dismissed for picking up two bookings in injury time.

Valencia took a 3-2 aggregate lead into the second leg of their quarter-final at Sevilla's imposing Ramon Sanchez Pijuan stadium, and they quickly extended their advantage when skipper Carlos Marchena nodded home from Joaquin's eighth-minute corner. Mali striker Freddie Kanoute restored parity on the night ten minutes before half-time, but Valencia still looked to be on course for the last four until Squillaci's last-gasp header nudged Sevilla ahead on the away goals rule.