Athletic Club overcame Atletico Madrid to advance to the Copa del Rey final

In a thrilling Copa de Rey semi-final clash, Athletic Bilbao showcased a remarkable performance, defeating Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 victory

Athletic Club overcame Atletico Madrid to advance to the Copa del Rey final

 

In a thrilling Copa de Rey semi-final clash, Athletic Bilbao showcased a remarkable performance, defeating Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 victory
In a thrilling Copa de Rey semi-final clash, Athletic Bilbao showcased a remarkable performance, defeating Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 victory

In a thrilling Copa de Rey semi-final clash, Athletic Bilbao showcased a remarkable performance, defeating Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 victory on Thursday. This resounding win secured them a 4-0 aggregate triumph and propelled them into the Copa de Rey final for the third time in the past five years.

The match, held at San Mames Stadium, was a testament to Athletic Bilbao’s strategic prowess and lethal counter-attacking ability, orchestrated masterfully by coach Ernesto Valverde. The game’s first goal came early, in the 13th minute, when Inaki Williams delivered a stunning volley into the net, capitalizing on a cross from his brother, Nico Williams. This initial strike set the tone for the match, highlighting the Williams brothers’ exceptional synergy on the field.

As the first half neared its end, the roles reversed, with Inaki turning provider for his younger sibling, Nico. In the 42nd minute, Nico Williams found himself in the perfect position to receive a pass from Inaki, which he converted into a straightforward close-range goal. Their on-field connection was palpable, with Nico Williams later expressing to TVE his elation and the surreal feeling of reaching the final alongside his brother, emphasizing their effective partnership.

Athletic Bilbao’s dominance persisted into the second half, with Gorka Guruzeta sealing the victory in the 61st minute by scoring off a rebound. The win was not only a display of Bilbao’s footballing excellence but also came amidst challenging circumstances, including fan disturbances prior to the match that resulted in an Atletico Madrid supporter being hospitalized due to serious injuries sustained in a clash with Athletic fans.

Further, the match experienced a delay exceeding 15 minutes at the onset of the second half, as medical personnel attended to an Athletic supporter who suffered a cardiac arrest in the stands. Thankfully, initial reports suggested the fan’s condition was not grave.

Athletic Bilbao’s path to glory leads them to a final showdown with Mallorca, who secured their spot through a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Real Sociedad. The final is scheduled to take place in Seville on April 6, presenting Bilbao with an opportunity to clinch their 24th Copa de Rey title, a feat only surpassed by Barcelona’s 31 titles.

Athletic Club, a storied institution in Spanish football, has not lifted the Copa de Rey trophy since 1984. Despite coming close in recent years, with runner-up finishes in the 2019-20 and 2021-21 seasons, they hope to end their title drought this year. Their journey to the final was highlighted by a crucial 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in the first leg at the Metropolitano, which ended Atletico’s impressive 28 match unbeaten streak at home.

Atletico Madrid, under the guidance of Diego Simeone and missing key player Antoine Griezmann due to an ankle injury, were aiming to capture their first Copa de Rey title since 2013. However, their aspirations were dashed by a determined Athletic Bilbao side, setting the stage for what promises to be an enthralling final in Seville.

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