Monday, September 25, 2023

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Real Madrid knocked off from Copa-del-Rey by underdogs Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Club won the Copa del Rey quarterfinals with a memorable 1-0 victory over Real Madrid thanks to Alex Berenguer’s late winner.

At San Mames, substitute Berenguer fired a left-footed shot past Thibaut Courtois in the 89th minute to finally reward Athletic, who had dominated the game but failed to breakthrough.

Casemiro had Madrid’s greatest chance, but his low second-half drive was stopped by Julen Agirrezabala.

Madrid walked into the match without leading scorer Karim Benzema, as well as a reliable left-back in Ferland Mendy. Carlo Ancelotti chose David Alaba on the left flank, with Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes, and Marco Asensio in the front three.

On its way into the stadium, the team’s bus was met by a harsh reception, with bottles being thrown and one of the bus windows being shattered; Athletic later apologised for the incident.

Athletic got off to a good start, with Courtois saving a thunderous long-range attempt from Dani Garcia two-handed. After beating Casemiro inside the box, Iker Muniain fired into the side getting more of the same in the second half, with Inigo Martinez heading a Muniain free-kick inches wide and Raul Garcia failing to divert another Muniain delivery towards goal.

Ancelotti brought on Isco in place of a tired-looking Vinicius, who had started for Brazil against Paraguay on Tuesday, but Casemiro was denied by Agirrezabala.

Berenguer went inside Nacho with seconds remaining in normal time before firing past Courtois to send Athletic into the semi-finals., and Nico Williams was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Eder Militao. This match is seen as a huge setback to Real Madrid who aimed for a treble this season.

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