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European Royalty All Win In Domestic Cup Ties

It was a good night for European footballing royalty as Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich all were victorious in domestic cup ties. Real Madrid and Barcelona are on a collision course for the Copa del Rey final, while AC Milan and Inter Milan could meet in the Coppa Italia final.

Liga pacesetters Barcelona and Madrid established first-leg leads in their semi-final ties. Madrid beat Sevilla 1-0 thanks to a superb solo effort from Karim Benzema. Barcelona had a much easier time as they beat Almeria 5-0. Lionel Messi scored twice within the first 16 minutes, with David Villa, Pedro Rodríguez and Seydou Keita adding the other Barca goals.

The Coppa Italia was equally short on surprises, with AC Milan beating Sampdoria 2-1 to set-up a semi-final meeting with Palermo. The Serie A leaders went in front through Pato’s 17th-minute volley and doubled their advantage soon after, the Brazil forward turning sharply before stroking high into the net. Stefano Guberti’s second-half header merely halved Sampdoria’s arrears.

Inter’s did not have it quite so easy as the other big names as they needed penalties to get past Napoli. Inter won the penalty shoot-out 5-4 as Ezequiel Lavezzi blasted his penalty over the bar. Inter will face the winners of Thursday’s match between Juventus and Roma in the semi-finals.

Upsets were more commonplace in the German Cup quarter-finals where second-tier clubs Cottbus and Duisberg progressed, with home wins over Bundesliga sides Hoffenheim and Kaiserslautern respectively. Holders Bayern Munich bucked the trend of upset beating Aachen 4-0. Mario Gomez opened the scoring with his 24th goal in his last 20 appearances for club and country.

In Holland, FC Twente beat PSV Eindhoven 7-6 after a penalty shootout to reach the Dutch Cup semifinals, while FC Utrecht advanced by beating Groningen 3-2. On Tuesday, Ronald van Hout scored a hat trick as second-tier RKC Waalwijk routed amateur club Noordwijk 6-0 in their quarterfinal, while Ajax hosts NAC Breda on Thursday to complete the semifinal lineup.