On Wednesday, Athletic Bilbao defeated Barcelona 4-2 at home to eliminate them from the Copa del Rey.
The thrilling quarterfinal included goals from brothers Inaki and Nico Williams in extra time.
Gorka Guruzeta’s rebound goal gave the hosts an early lead in the first minute, but Barca responded with two goals in five minutes before halftime. Yuri Berchiche of Athletic attempted to clear the ball from his own six-yard box in the 27th minute, but it cannoned off Robert Lewandowski and into the empty net.
Subsequently, Lamine Yamal displayed a moment of brilliance as he bounded past three defenders to reach the edge of the box, where he cut inside and skillfully placed a strike just inside. But Athletic rallied after the interval, tying the score in the 49th minute by a powerful header from Oihan Sancet after Nico Williams’ excellent cross from the left.
As Athletic pressed for a third, 16-year-old Yamal wasted two clear-cut opportunities from close range as the deft Nico Williams caused constant problems for Barca’s defense.
Athletic converted their superiority into goals in the extra period. Two minutes into additional time before halftime, Nico Williams won the victory with a beautiful curling goal into the top corner, while Inaki Williams first scored a rebound from his own close-range strike that rebounded back off the post.
Only hours before, Inaki Williams—who had just arrived from the Ivory Coast, where he had participated in the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana—told TVE,
“Not even in the best of dreams I have seen this coming.”
“Everything went perfectly today. Yesterday I couldn’t imagine being here after a very hard blow (Ghana’s elimination). “I have to thank the club for helping me to be here as soon as possible and the fans for embracing me the way they did.”
In the semi-finals, Athletic will play Real Sociedad, Mallorca, and the victor of Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla on Thursday.
Tuesday saw Real Sociedad defeat Celta Vigo 2-1, while earlier on Wednesday Mallorca surprised La Liga leaders Girona by defeating them 3-2.
After a faltering season, Xavi Hernandez, the manager of Barcelona, will not be helped by the defeat.
Barca are third in the LaLiga standings on 44 points, eight behind leaders Girona and seven adrift of rivals Real Madrid in second.
“I am calm, the most important titles remain,”
Speaking of La Liga and the Champions League, where Barcelona will take on Napoli in the round of 16, Xavi informed TVE.
“We tried, I think we competed well against a great team who are very strong at home. I said at the draw that we were unlucky. We had the winning goal with Lamine’s chances, but we can be proud that we tried.”
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