La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Rayo Vallecano in the first leg of the Copa del Rey round of 16. But holders Barcelona thrashed local rivals Espanyol at the Camp Nou.
Manager Gary Neville's Valencia also did the same to Granada, while last season's beaten finalists, Athletic Bilbao, scraped past Villarreal.
It was something of a derby day in the Spanish cup with Barca embroiled in a Catalan derby, while Seville's main rivals also locked horns.
Here are the full results from Wednesday's round-of-16 first-leg matches:
|Mirandes||1-1||Deportivo La Coruna|
|Real Betis Balompie||0-2||Sevilla|
|Rayo Vallecano||1-1||Atletico Madrid|
Source: Sky Sports
Rayo went in front at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas. Nacho hit a thunderous strike to leave Atleti reeling.
Madrid responded thanks to Saul Niguez in the second half. The defensive midfielder is beginning to establish a knack for scoring, according to OptaJose:
5 - Saúl Ñíguez has scored five goals for @atletienglish this season, as many as Jackson (3) and Torres (2) combined. Ray.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 6, 2016
Atletico manager Diego Simeone is already anticipating a very tricky second leg, per Atleti English:
Barca were stung by their Catalan neighbours early on at the Camp Nou. Felipe Caicedo put Espanyol ahead. But Lionel Messi soon took over. He levelled things before rasping in a trademark free-kick on the cusp of half-time to put the holders in front.
Gerard Pique and Neymar Jr. added goals after the break to put some gloss on the scoreline.
BBC Sport's Andy West provided an appropriate response to Messi's brilliant display:
Barca with one foot in the quarter final, then. Messi's left foot, to be precise: scored two, created two.— Andy West (@andywest01) January 6, 2016
The post-match talk centred on Espanyol's rugged tactics. Responding to claims they made the game physical, midfielder Pape Diop offered this highly controversial answer, per Barcelona-based writer and commentator Richard Martin:
Pape Diop: "You can't say we weren't violent (to Barca). There was no blood. If we'd wanted, the Barca players would've left on stretchers"— Richard Martin (@rich9908) January 6, 2016
Defensive midfielder Diop was sent off following a verbal confrontation with the referee. Barca manager Luis Enrique, was less than impressed with Espanyol's approach:
Bilbao needed a late goal from centre-back Aymeric Laporte to see off Villarreal. The Basque side also got goals from Inaki Williams and superb veteran target man Aritz Aduriz.
All three goals from the hosts came in the second half after the Yellow Submarine had stunned the San Mames crowd by going two in front. Leo Baptistao opened their account before Samuel Garcia Sanchez doubled the lead.
But the visitors' late collapse was perhaps best summed up by the dismissal of hapless substitute Mario. ESPN's Dermot Corrigan described how it didn't take long for the full-back to see red:
Now Villarreal [and Spain] RB Mario picks up second yellow card just 13 mins after coming on as sub - for hand into Aduriz's face.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) January 6, 2016
Despite the defeat, Villarreal are always tough at El Madrigal. With two away goals to its credit, the Yellow Submarine should still be fancied to make it through.
Sevilla beat bitter rivals Real Betis thanks to goals from Michael Krohn-Dehli and midfield anchorman Grzegorz Krychowiak. Playmaker Krohn-Dehli was at the heart of Sevilla's assured passing in the first half at Benito Villamarin, according to OptaJose:
22 - Michael Krohn-Dehli completed all of his 22 passes in the opposition half in this first half time of #RBBvSFC. Compass.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 6, 2016
While this derby's always unpredictable, Sevilla have given themselves a true platform for reaching the last eight.
In Valencia, Alvaro Negredo bagged an unlikely hat-trick to help Neville's team build what is surely an insurmountable lead for Granada to overcome in the second leg.
Corrigan detailed just how rare a Negredo goal had been for Los Che this season:
First goal for Negredo since August [!]. Had gone 10 games without scoring, and missed easier chance late on v Madrid on Sunday eve.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) January 6, 2016
Rodrigo was also on the scoresheet as Neville's men ran riot at the Mestalla.
The surprise result of the night came when Segunda Division team Mirandes escaped their first leg against top-flight Deportivo La Coruna without defeat. Depor were actually stunned to see the home side go in front courtesy of Alex Ortiz.
But Alberto Lopo spared the away team's blushes with 15 minutes to go.
Barca look a safe bet to go through to quarter-final stage, as do Valencia. But it's the former who will stay favourites to ultimately retain the trophy.