Copa del Rey: Athletic Bilbao beat Real Betis on penalties to reach semifinals

The Associated Press
·2-min read

Madrid: Raúl García scored a last-gasp equaliser to force extra time and goalkeeper Unai Simón made two penalty saves as Athletic Bilbao defeated Real Betis 4-1 in a penalty shootout to reach the Copa del Rey semifinals on Thursday.

García also scored one of the penalties after a 1-1 draw to help keep Athletic in contention for consecutive Copa titles. Later this year they will face Basque Country rivals Real Sociedad in the postponed final from last season.

"I'm proud of this team," García said. "We were in a complicated situation, losing until the last minute, but we always believed that we could come back."

Iñaki Williams, Jon Morcillo and Yuri Berchiche also scored for the 23-time Copa champion in the shootout. Simón stopped penalties taken by Sergio Canales and Juanmi Jiménez.

Two-time Copa winners Betis looked set to make it to the semis for the second time in three seasons after Juanmi scored with a volley from inside the area in the 84th minute. But the visitors equalised in the fourth minute of stoppage time with a header by García from near the penalty spot after a well-placed cross by Iñigo Martínez.

"When it gets to a penalty shootout it's a lottery," Betis midfielder Joaquín Sánchez said. "We could see the semifinals. We played a complete match."

Manuel Pellegrini's Betis were unbeaten in eight consecutive matches in all competitions.

Athletic, who have lost only twice since coach Marcelino García Toral took over at the beginning of the year, beat Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final earlier this year.

"It was a tough night but in the end things went our way in the shootout," Toral said. "I think it was a fair result after how we played the game."

The other Copa semifinalists are Barcelona, Levante and Sevilla. The draw for the last four will be on Friday.

The semifinals will be played over two legs.

Also See: European football matchday: Tottenham play Wycombe for second time in history; Athletic Bilbao host Getafe

Copa Del Rey: Real Betis rallies past Sociedad to reach quarter-finals; Villarreal advance after beating Girona

European football matchday: Thomas Tuchel's first game as Chelsea manager against Wolverhampton; Lionel Messi back for Barcelona in Copa del Rey clash

Read more on Sports by Firstpost.