- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

MADRID (AP) - Sevilla needed only a few seconds to end Atletico Madrid’s hopes of reaching the Copa del Rey semifinals.

Sergio Escudero scored 26 seconds into the match as Sevilla defeated Atletico 3-1 at home on Tuesday, advancing 5-2 on aggregate for its second semifinal appearance in three years.

It was the second elimination for Atletico, which had already failed to get past the group stage of the Champions League.

“Both eliminations are my responsibility,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “And it’s my responsibility to make sure that we keep competing, like we always have.”

Atletico’s hopes for a title this season are reduced to the Spanish league and the Europa League. It trails Barcelona by 11 points at the start of the second half in La Liga.

“We had a lot of hopes of doing well in the Copa,” Atletico midfielder Koke said. “But in the end Sevilla was a better team. We have to move on.”

It was another reassuring result for Sevilla under new coach Vincenzo Montella, who revamped the team since replacing Eduardo Berizzo late last year. After a slow start, Montella has led Sevilla to three straight wins, putting the team back in contention for a Champions League spot in the Spanish league.

“We needed a result like this,” Sevilla midfielder Pablo Sarabia said. “We needed this to boost our confidence and to allow us to keep improving.”

Sevilla made it to the Copa del Rey final two years ago, losing to Barcelona. It won the last of its five Copa titles in 2010.

Tuesday’s result extended Atletico’s winless streak to three matches in all competitions.

Atletico entered the match needing to score at least two goals to overcome the 2-1 home loss in the first leg in Madrid. But Sevilla struck in its first attack, with Escudero scoring with a shot from inside the area after a well-placed cross by Sarabia.

Atletico didn’t take long to equalize, with Antoine Griezmann’s long-range shot going over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in the 13th minute. But Sevilla netted again early in the second half with a penalty kick converted by Ever Banega, and Sarabia increased the lead with a low strike into the far corner in the 79th to seal the team’s spot in the last four.

“It was a perfect night for us,” Montella said.

Simeone was sent off shortly after Sevilla’s final goal for complaining with the officiating crew.

Atletico was without striker Diego Costa because of an injury.

On Wednesday, Real Madrid hosts Leganes after a 1-0 first-leg win, while Alaves tries to overcome a 2-1 loss at Valencia. Three-time defending champion Barcelona hosts city rival Espanyol on Thursday looking to reverse a 1-0 loss.


More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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