Atletico Madrid beat Real Betis 2-0 here Thursday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal matchup.
The home side prevailed thanks to first-half offensive fireworks and several sensational saves by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Atletico's vigorous attack bore fruit in the 10th minute, when Diego Costa's brilliant individual effort set up Raul Garcia's centering pass to striker Radamel Falcao, who headed the ball into the Betis net.
Costa was also the architect of the second goal, which came in the 23rd minute off the foot of Atletico's Filipe Luis.
Betis battled back, pelting Courtois with four shots in a single rush. The Atletico keeper came up big again in the second half, turning aside a shot by Jorge Molina.
Though held at bay on Thursday, Betis made it clear that Atletico cannot take a semifinal berth for granted.
Atletico's crosstown rival, Real Madrid, also won the first leg of their quarterfinal 2-0, shutting out visiting Valencia on Tuesday.
Zaragoza and Sevilla played to a scoreless draw in Wednesday's quarterfinal action, which also saw league-leading Barcelona forced to settle for a 2-2 tie with Malaga.
The second leg matches are set for Jan. 23-24. EFE