Barren year threatens as Real crash to 6-1 defeat

Four goals from Argentine striker Diego Milito and a second-half double from his Brazilian strike partner Ewerthon inflicted Real Madrid's heaviest defeat since June 1999, when they lost 6-0 to Valencia, also in a Spanish Cup semi-final first leg. This defeat was Real's first in 2006 and by some margin the worst Beckham has had to suffer during his time in Spain.

The England captain helped to reduce the deficit in the first half when his clever free-kick set up Julio Baptista to head home, but the goal will probably not be enough to save Real, who must now win 5-0 at home to reach the cup final.

The Real coach, Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, left Jonathan Woodgate out of the starting line-up as Real sought to reach their first final for three seasons. But without his aerial presence they were a defensive shambles, easily beaten by their mid-table opponents.

Lopez Caro was defiant, however. He said: "Cowards would think the semi-final is decided. [But] we have ability, pride, faith and hope and I believe we can do it."

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