Hopping gaffers, bonkers refs, cheap tickets and empty stadiums

No wonder ankle-knacked Córdoba manager Lucas Alcaraz was going more than a little loopy on his crutches and struggling to stay upright in the touchline mud in a rainy El Sardinero stadium.

His side had managed to take Racing into extra time in Tuesday’s Copa del Rey clash with the aggregate score at 2-2, but a third for the home side looked set to put the Cantabrian team through.

But that was until referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro got bored and decided to intervene by awarding a penalty to Córdoba for handball despite a clear case of ball-to-hand from disbelieving defender Christian Fernández, who had placed his arms in front of his body to avoid just such an outcome.

The subsequent spot-kick put Córdoba through with just seconds left, sending Alcaraz to the edge of his technical area to use one crutch to wave instructions at the players and the other to find a secure place in the Santander swamp to stop himself toppling over.

Damp and depressed Racing boss Miguel Angel Portugal badly needed a win with his side struggling in la Primera and was none too pleased with the referee’s peculiar decision. “Football is cruel and illogical,” he sighed, bewildered.

The evening’s second Copa del Rey tie was considerably less exciting, Espanyol drawing with Valladolid 1-1 to give the Pericos a 3-1 aggregate victory. However, there could have been thrills and spills had opposition halfwit Calle not decided to attempt a Panenka penalty after 10 minutes – only to see Cristian Alvarez save the insane shot without moving.

A whole load of other ties are taking place on Wednesday. The pick of the bunch certainly isn’t Atlético Madrid against Universidad at the Vicente Calderón, with the Rojiblancos 5-0 up from the first leg.

The complete lack of tension in the tie has left television companies uninterested in broadcasting it and fans uninterested in going, with Marca reporting that just 24 tickets had been sold by Tuesday lunchtime - 24 lucky souls who will catch a rare glimpse of Juanito in action against the Canary Island club.

Up the road a bit in Capital City and Real Madrid are expecting a sell-out at the Santiago Bernabeu, having dropped their lowest ticket prices to €8 for the clash against Murcia with the aggregate score in their game still goalless.

Despite being in the early stages of the competition and facing a team from the third tier of Spanish football who spent five hours traveling to Madrid by coach, Marca are panicking slightly and calling the game “the first final of the ‘Mou Team’”.

A coquettish José Mourinho gave his starting XI on Tuesday and called for Wednesday’s home crowd to make a bit of an effort for once. “I would like the Bernabeu to be a bit noisier,” mused The Very Special One. “In the derby it was too quiet, although I understand that this is cultural.”

Marca have quite naturally leapt upon this request as further signs of the Real Madrid manager’s all-round genius, with Wednesday’s editorial gasping that “the manager is on top of everything: tactics, fitness, whether the pitch is good or bad, if Pedro León or Benzema need more or less affection... and he’s right in almost everything.”

LLL suspects that the only thing that José Mourinho isn’t on top of is Marca’s editor, and the blog senses that this may be of lasting regret to the paper’s big boss.

Barcelona are giving Bojan another chance to mess up against Ceuta in the Camp Nou in a game where they hold a 2-0 lead, while third-placed Villarreal host Poli Eijido at El Madrigal with the tie level at 1-1.

Also at 1-1, Deportivo v Osasuna may be of some interest, but only in the same way one may take a curious look back into the bowl after a 20 minute session on the throne.

Elsewhere, new Málaga boss Manuel Pellegrini makes his debut in a clash against a Hércules side featuring Royston Drenthe – who didn't exactly enjoy his season under the Third-Choice Chilean at Real Madrid.

“We weren’t close, he didn’t treat me as I wanted to be sometimes. It wasn’t my best year and I didn’t play much,” said the on-loan Hércules winger in reflective mood and preparing to show his former manager brand new ways of falling over.