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Casillas takes heart from Cup progress

Iker Casillas says Real Madrid’s performances in the Copa del Rey are helping to ease the pain of their La Liga struggles.

Karim Benzema’s strike and a Jose Guardado own-goal saw Real run out 2-0 winners over Valencia in their quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho’s team may consider themselves fortunate to come out on top after being outplayed by the visitors for much of the contest at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Casillas, however, preferred to focus on a confidence-boosting clean sheet, before conceding that a potential semi-final against Barcelona or Malaga will be tough.

“Playing the first leg at home, it was important to keep a clean sheet,” the Spain goalkeeper told reporters after the victory.

“Valencia are a tough team and I am convinced that the return leg will be difficult. Our performance suffered, but the result is excellent.

“We have a complicated route in the Copa and we know it. If we qualify, we have a hypothetical clash with Barcelona or Malaga, which is fine.

“But the victory gives us confidence and helps us to forget the pain of our league form.”

Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka then defended the match officials – who had been criticised for several dubious offside decisions – before admitting the result could easily have gone in Valencia’s favour.

“There were two offsides, and from neither of them did Valencia score,” he said.

“So you can’t talk about the opponents being affected by these bad calls by the referee.

“In previous matches, bad decisions by referees had a direct impact on the result. This didn’t happen tonight.

“But the result could have been different, both teams had many chances to score.”

Wed 16 Jan, 2013
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