Athletic 6 Mirandés 2 (8-3 on agg): In the final!By: Jack | February 7th, 2012
Bielsa’s Lions booked their place in the Copa del Rey final after a goal-laden match.
In the last semi-final three years ago, Athletic were very quick out of the blocks and soon raced into a three goal lead and the same thing happened tonight.
After just 11 minutes Muniain opened the scoring and soon after Susaeta scored to double Athletic’s lead on the night and make it 4-1 on agg.
Then on 22 minutes left-back Aurtenetxe scored a rare goal – and a header at that – to make it 3-0. Athletic’s place in the final was all but confirmed and it seemed to be a question of how many poor Mirandés would concede.
It is hard to guess what both coaches said at half-time but it appeared that Bielsa had one eye on the weekend’s league game. Athletic eased off after the break and Mirandés pulled one back just before the hour mark. A poorly defended corner and after a few attempts the ball was eventually scrambled in by Aitor Blanco.
There were more chances for the third tier side but Llorente restored the three goal cushion with a lovely, if possibly deflected, lob. Llorente again struck four minutes later and any fears of a miracle comeback for Mirandés was gone.
The goals were not up though as the travelling fans had a second to celebrate. A free-kick was blocked but not dealt with and the ball was crossed to Aitor Blanco who scored his second. Athletic scored their sixth just before the end with former León César – who score the famous late winner in the last round – putting the ball in his own net.
Athletic have reached their second Copa final for four years and look to win their first trophy for 28 years. The 2nd leg (and perhaps the tie) against Mirandés was relatively comfortable but not as much as it should have been. Athletic eased off a bit in both second halves but ultimately did enough to progress. The two goals tonight came from poorly defended set-pieces but overall I don’t think that is a big concern.
The club will play either Barcelona or Valencia in the final, the 2nd leg takes place tomorrow in Camp Nou and is currently level at 1-1. Barcelona are favourites to progress, which would give a rematch from three years ago. Valencia would be seen as the (slightly) easier opponents, but with 3rd place seemingly sealed they would have no other distractions and could concentrate on the final.
Irrelevant of the opponents the final seems to be in Madrid though the venue (and date) is not yet confirmed. Conspiracy theorists say that a Athletic – Barça final would never be at the Bernabeu but I guess we’ll find out