Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Real Madrid; Athletic Bilbao strike late to send Real Madrid crashing out of Copa del Rey

     Athletic Bilbao sent Real Madrid crashing out of the Copa del Rey thanks to a stunning last-minute strike by substitute Álex Berenguer at San Mamés.

Berenguer’s goal in the 89th minute secured a surprise 1-0 victory in the quarter-finals, as Marcelino’s side followed up their last-16 win over Barcelona with another unexpected result. It was a deserved breakthrough for the hosts, who had been the stronger side for much of the contest, and made up for defeats to Real in the Spanish Super Cup final and two recent La Liga matches.

Real Madrid struggled to create chances without the injured Karim Benzema. The Brazilian trio of Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo and Casemiro played on their return from international duty but looked off the pace. Vinícius was substituted early in the second half, before Casemiro’s misplaced pass allowed Berenguer the chance to score.

“We had the game under control and we could have had an opportunity to win in extra-time, but they managed to score late and they deserved the win,” Carlo Ancelotti said afterwards. The Real Madrid head coach also defending his decision to leave out Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard. “I’m not punishing anyone,” Ancelotti added. “They all have to compete to play.”

Athletic last won the trophy in 1984 and lost the 2020 and 2021 finals to Real Sociedad and Barcelona respectively. The Basque side complete an unexpected semi-final line-up alongside Real Betis, Valencia and Rayo Vallecano. The draw for the final four will be made on Friday, with the semi-finals played over two legs.

Betis booked their place with a 4-0 win at Sociedad on Thursday, with Juanmi on target twice for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. The hosts had an early goal disallowed for offside by the VAR, but the wrong image was shown on the TV broadcast. The company behind the technology used have launched an investigation.

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