Atletico Madrid crushes Racing Santander to virtually seal Cup final place

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Atletico Madrid's Simao Sabrosa celebrates his goal during their King's Cup semi-final first leg soccer match against Racing Santander in Madrid, Spain, February 4, 2010. Atletico Madrid won the match 4-0.

MADRID, Feb. 4 -- Atletico Madrid defeated Racing Santander 4-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal in Vicente Calderon Stadium on Thursday night to virtually assure a place in the final of Spanish football's knockout tournament.

Atletico went into the game on the back of successive league defeats and rumors that coach Quique Sanchez Flores could lose his job should his side fail to reach the final.

Racing meanwhile was unbeaten in its last nine matches under coach Miguel Angel Portugal.

Quique included both Diego Forlan and Kun Aguero in his starting 11, perhaps aware that Forlan has scored six goals in his previous five appearances against the visitors.

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Meanwhile Portugal included 18-year-old star player Sergio Canales in his starting 11.

As things turned out Canales was one of his side's best players, but Racing barely got a look in against a highly motivated Atletico team.

Winger Simao Sabrosa was a key figure in the first half. The Portuguese international opened the scoring after just nine minutes following a pass from Aguero.

Simao also had a hand in the second goal, creating a shooting chance for himself, that allowed Jose Antonio Reyes to score Atletico's second from a rebound six minutes before half time.

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The second half saw Atletico, cheered on by a packed stadium, press home its advantage.

Quique's faith in Forlan was rewarded when the striker scored from the penalty spot after 63 minutes after Toni Moral had fouled Jose Jurado.

Forlan scored a second penalty ten minutes later after a Torrejon foul on Aguero.

There was an ugly scene between various players from both teams in the final minute as Racing's frustration boiled over which led to four players being booked, but even that could not take the shine off what had been an excellent night for Atletico.

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