Spain: Aranda gives Zaragoza 1-0 win at Levante
Striker Carlos Aranda scored in injury time to give Real Zaragoza a 1-0 win at Levante in the first leg of their Copa del Rey round-of-16 matchup on Thursday.
After failing to threaten Levante's goal through 91 minutes, Aranda collected Leo Franco's long goal kick before lifting a delicate chip shot over goalkeeper Kaylor Navas to snatch the late victory. The 32-year-old Aranda played for Levante last season.
"It's an important win, but it's not decisive,'' said Zaragoza coach Manolo Jimenez. "The return leg will be difficult because Levante is a good road team.''
Levante played without most of its regular starters, who have taken the team to sixth in the Spanish league and the knockout rounds of the Europa League.
"This is a different kind of competition (but) we fielded a team to compete tonight,'' said Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez. "We are angry. We can't give the game away like that.''
The away leg will be played in Zaragoza on Jan. 9. On Sunday, Zaragoza hosts Levante in the Spanish league.
The winner of the series will likely face Sevilla in the quarterfinals after the Andalusian club thrashed Mallorca 5-0 in their first meeting on Wednesday.
Also on Thursday, Real Betis drew 1-1 at second-division Las Palmas in the opening leg of their round-of-16 series.
Both goalkeepers made several saves to keep the match in the Canary Islands scoreless through 67 minutes when second-half substitute Ruben Castro volleyed a curling shot into the net from a pass by strike partner Jorge Molina.
Macauley Chrisantus leveled for the hosts in the 84th by pushing in a short cross from Thievy Bifouma after the Las Palmas forward had beaten his marker and made the pass before goalkeeper Casto Espinosa could close in.
The second leg in Seville will be played on Jan. 10. The winner will play either Atletico Madrid or Getafe, with Atletico having won 3-0 in the first game.