Friday, June 14, 2024

Athletic Bilbao need penalties to end 40-year wait for Copa del Rey glory

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Apr 2024

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Substitute Alex Berenguer ended Athletic Bilbao’s 40-year wait for Copa del Rey glory with the decisive penalty in a shoot-out victory over Real Mallorca.

Raul Garcia, Iker Muniain, Mikel Vesga and Berenguer, who were all introduced from the bench, scored from the spot as keeper Julen Agirrezabala saved from Manu Morianes and Nemanja Radonjic blazed over to hand the Basque club the trophy they last win as part of a league and cup double in 1984.

Oihan Sancet’s 50th-minute strike had earlier cancelled out Dani Rodriguez’s first-half opener at the Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja in Seville, but neither team could find a winner in 120 minutes of football.

Nico Williams served early warning of Bilbao’s intent with a first-minute shot and Mallorca goalkeeper Dominik Greif had to save from Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta as they built up a head of steam.

Agirrezabala denied Vedat Muriqi and Copete in quick succession as Mallorca responded, but he was finally beaten with 21 minutes gone.

His defenders failed to clear Antonio Raillo’s corner, despite having several chances to do so, and Rodriguez pounced to smash home the opening goal from 16 yards.

Raillo headed wide from a tight angle as his side pushed for a second, but Sancet and Gorka Guruzeta both went close to an equaliser, but not as close as Williams in first-half stoppage time, in an even contest.

Mallorca, who beat Real Sociedad on penalties to reach the final, returned knowing they could be just 45 minutes from glory, but equally aware the job was nowhere near done.

Cyle Larin forced a save from Agirrezabala within seconds of the restart, but Bilbao were back in it with 50 minutes gone when Williams slid Sancet in and he fired emphatically past Greif.

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