Jose Bordalas dedicated Valencia’s victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey semi-finals to the club’s “incredible” fans.
A spectacular strike from Goncalo Guedes sealed a 1-0 win at Mestalla on Wednesday and a 2-1 aggregate triumph for Valencia, as they reached the final for the second time in four seasons.
Athletic, who had lost the past two finals, only managed a single shot on target in the match as the home side, roared on by the Mestalla crowd, kept them comfortably at bay.
Valencia have won just eight of 26 LaLiga games under Bordalas this season but will now face either Real Betis or Rayo Vallecano in the final for the chance to lift a trophy and qualify for the Europa League.
“It’s a feeling of enormous, incredible satisfaction,” said the former Getafe boss.
“It was a case of be in the final or don’t be. The little they created against us, we solved in a remarkable way. We were the fair winners of this semi-final. We’re in the final on our own merit.
“These fans and this pitch are incredible. I always wanted to manage Valencia and getting to the final will give us a lot of confidence and will unite us.
“What I experienced when I arrived, I was very surprised. I couldn’t explain it. I’ve experienced similar moments, but not like this.
“The fans all deserved that we went through. On the pitch, I couldn’t even communicate with the players. Everything was shaking. This gave us incredible strength and energy.”
Marcelino was in charge of Valencia for their Copa triumph in 2019 and took Athletic to the 2019-20 and 2020-21 finals, where they were beaten by Real Sociedad and Barcelona.
After falling short in his quest for a fourth consecutive final, the Athletic boss said his side had been punished for a lacklustre performance in the first leg.
“Firstly, we have to congratulate Valencia,” he said.
“It was a very even tie, but in the first leg we weren’t at a good level, and we paid for it. Here, we stood up really well, and we were superior to Valencia in the first half, but a great goal from Guedes decided the tie.
“In the second half, we maybe lacked freshness, a reading of the game. We were losing our positional play as the minutes went by and maybe our best men, or the most decisive in the second half, didn’t have their best night.
“We did everything possible to reach the final. We just needed one goal to go to extra time until the 95th minute, but we didn’t hit the opposition goal, and we were penalised for that.
“We would have liked to have had a final with fans. Now, we ask that they continue to support us. The team deserves it because it was only small details that decided the tie.”
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