Malaga’s Gracia left feeling “bitter”

Malaga boss Javi Gracia said he was left feeling “bitter” after seeing his side go down to a 3-2 Copa del Rey defeat at Levante.

The Andalusians were cruising 2-0 in their second-leg tie at the Ciutat de Valencia – 4-0 on aggregate after last week’s first leg – before David Barral was on target with a quick-fire second-half double and Juanfran struck a late winner to give them an anxious last few minutes.

Young Portugal winger Ricardo Horta had put the visitors ahead midway through the first half and Recio doubled their lead seven minutes before the break.

Barral thought he had scored a hat-trick late on, only for the referee to rule the goal out for handball and show him a red card for a second bookable offence, as Malaga held on to reach the quarter-finals.

“We played well and competed in the first half when we managed to obtain a four-goal advantage,” said Gracia at the post-match Press conference.

“But some bad minutes in the second half saw us concede three goals and it leaves me with a bitter taste despite achieving our aim of qualifying.”

However, Gracia said he was not worried about the outcome of the tie in the final minutes.

“We had a difference of two goals so I don’t think we were in any danger. In the first match and in the first half we deserved to remain in this competition because of our performances.

“I don’t like to lose, even more so when we were in a strong position, but we could have avoided what happened.

“It was all down to a lack of intensity and the way we relaxed,” he added.

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