Athletic has qualified for the semifinals of the Copa del Rey after a beastly match from power to power that had to be decided from the penalty shoot-out. The final hero was Unai Simón who became a giant from eleven meters. A night that no one will forget. Neither the winner nor the one who goes home with a bad taste in his mouth especially since he had his moment in the game to win the tie, and justice from the penalty spot is always something less for the loser. Canales, the Betis soul, and Juanmi failed for Betis. An Athletic who is touched by the wand of the Gods goes into semis. And Betis leaves in an immensely cruel way, on penalties and having caressed the classification.
All this long history of the quarterfinals at Benito Villamarin had a beginning. It was necessary to see how Marcelino was going to rebuild his eleven without Muniain, one of his fittest and most decisive men. At Betis, with several changes for LaLiga, Pellegrini strengthened the midfield with William Carvalho and released Canales, to take advantage of his idyll with the goal near the rival goal.
The duel began with a Basque team pressing up. They wanted to stifle the Betic output, less fluid as they had the Cantabrian further away from the initiation. De Marcos starred in the first arrival for his band, but his low center behind did not find a finish. Pellegrini asked for calm at the start, seeing himself with more troops. William and Guido helped on each side so that the ball came out clean. So Fekir and Canales began to come into play. Football was speeding up.
But it would be Aitor Ruibal who would carry the greatest danger in the first half for the locals. A pass to the near post, poorly cleared by Yeray, allowed Canales to shoot from the edge of the small area, but with the right. His shot went to the side of the net. Serious notice. The next would be another strong pass to the far post, after seeing well Ruibal’s career by Canales, which Miranda would not be able to finish off with success.
Athletic had dropped in intensity and that was being taken advantage of by the locals. Marcelino pressed so that his men would not get disordered. Athletic did worry about set-pieces. And he had Williams’s bullet on the bench. Very afraid of losing on both sides. Semi-finals were too generous a prize to pass up.
THE GOALS CAME
And the first mistake was made by Yeray with a tackle from behind to Fekir in a safe area. Lack of yellow and the Basque defender already had one. Hernandez Hernandez forgave her. The Frenchman from Betis was the one who electrified the game. Inigo also saw yellow for a foul on the edge of the area on the Frenchman. Very dangerous. Canales threw high.
Athletic needed to combine. And the first time he did it with ease in three quarters, Yuri appeared, always active in the offensive facet, so that Joel could serve with his feet, in the same way, that he embittered Calleri a few days ago in this same scenario. And again with a tackle from Yuri on the wing with a dribble cross soon near the corner, he headed it from Marcos at the other post completely alone and went high.
Now Athletic was a warning. Minutes and moments were shared. Williams had already entered, with Juanmi reinforcing the Verde Blanco attack. Looking for the coaches a hero. And precisely the forward of Coín would hunt a loose ball in the area with his left without dropping it. A goal that was worth the semifinals. Until in 93 ‘the usual Raúl García appeared to equalize on the hour and give a touch of cruelty to a Betis that was already celebrating the semis. Inigo Martinez desperately recovered and his powerful center headed him into extra time on the 22nd. Marcelino has seven lives in the Cup.
TO THE EXTENSION
Pellegrini tried to close the duel with defensive changes in the extension of the second half. Raúl García’s goal caught Betis with Sidnei as a midfielder and Guarded in a band. And without Fekir or Borja Iglesias. Despite this, Betis dominated the first part of extra time. Athletic wanted to maintain the effervescence of their goal, but the locals were better placed, with many men behind the ball. The premise was not to be wrong again.
And in the last gasp of the first 15 minutes, Joaquín had a ball back inside the area given back by Juanmi, but the rojiblanca defense launched like lions to block it. The beginning of the second would show the wear in a cross between Montoya and de Marcos. They both complained of muscle cramps. Bestial intensity. The two wanted to peek into the semi-final hype. Betis dominated but did not specify.
Two hours of football were over. Penalties were going to decide. And there appeared a giant Unai Simón. He stopped the launches to Canales and Juanmi. Athletic scored their four shots. The Bilbao team, to the semifinals.