Madrid, Feb 24 (IANS) Both Barcelona and Real Madrid began preparations for their Copa del Rey semi-final return leg in their respective Spanish La Liga matches Saturday night.
Both sides will meet in the Camp Nou Tuesday with the score tied 1-1 after a thrilling first leg and Barcelona starting 15 points ahead of their rivals in La Liga, it was clear both sides had one eye to the Cup.
Real Madrid rested Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil against Deportivo la Coruna and were also without the suspended Sergio Ramos for their away match to the bottom of the table side, Xinhua reports.
The result was a very poor first half showing and Deportivo deservedly took the lead thanks to a powerful near post shot from Riki which surprised Madrid keeper Diego Lopez.
Madrid didn't look like improving until coach Jose Mourinho made a triple change, bringing Ronaldo, Khedira and Ozil into the action in a triple substitution.
Kaka equalized with a fine curling shot with just over 15 minutes remaining and Gonzalo Higuain's first goal in six matches in the closing moments saved Madrid's blushes while breaking Deportivo's hearts after their efforts, especially in the first half, had deserved a point.
It was all changed for Barca at home to Sevilla as well, with players such as Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez, Jordi Alba, Carles Puyol and Cesc Fabregas all rested ahead of Tuesday's match.
Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta were in the side, however, as Barca looked to right the wrongs they committed in Wednesday's Champions defeat in Milan, but for the best part of the first half it looked like deja-vu as Barca failed to break down a neat Sevilla side, which took the lead from an Alberto Botia header four minutes from halftime as Barca again showed the defensive weakness which has seen them concede in 10 consecutive matches.
That was forgotten in the first 15 minutes of the second half as David Villa again re-vindicated himself with a equaliser, before Christian Tello set up Messi to score in his 15th consecutive league game in the 60th minute.
Both sides had chances in the last half hour with Messi and Tello going close for Barca, while at the other end Alvaro Negredo missed the sort of chance that Cristiano Ronaldo could well have taken.
At the end of the day the big guns won, but left the impression that they reserved their heavy ammunition until next week.
Elsewhere Mallorca are looking increasingly doomed to relegation after suffering a 3-1 home defeat to Getafe. Geovani Dos Santos had put islanders ahead, before Diego Castro equalised from the penalty spot and Adrian Colunga netted two further goals to keep Getafe in with a chance of qualifying for Europe.
Valencia fought back from two goals down against Zaragoza to leave their hosts without a win in 2013. Zaragoza had looked to be on track thanks to goals from Apono and Helder Postiga, which had put them 2-0 up after half an hour, but Jonas Goncalves got Valencia back into the game before the break and scored again in the second half.
Zaragoza hung on with 10 men for the last 10 minutes after goalkeeper Leo Franco, making his first league appearance since May 2011 was sent off for handling the ball outside of the penalty area.