Thu, Jan 26, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Mirandes pull off shock Copa win over Espanyol

Reuters, MADRID

Pablo Infante of Mirandes, center top, celebrates with the fans after eliminating RCD Espanyol from the Copa del Rey in Miranda de Ebro, Spain, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Third-tier Mirandes pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Copa del Rey history when they scored in stoppage-time to snatch a shock 2-1 comeback win over top-flight side RCD Espanyol on Tuesday that sent them through to the semi-finals on away goals.

The 4-4 aggregate result, coming after last week’s first leg in Barcelona finished 3-2, prompted wild celebrations at the club’s stadium in Miranda de Ebro and set up a semi-final against Athletic Bilbao or RCD Mallorca.

It was only the second time a team from the third level of Spanish soccer has reached the last four of the Copa, as Mirandes, who have an annual budget of just over US$1.5 million, followed up their unlikely successes against La Liga clubs Villarreal and Racing Santander with another heroic display.

“This is amazing,” captain Pablo Infante, a local bank employee who netted the equalizer and provided the assist for the dramatic winner, told Spanish television. “Tomorrow I have to go to work, but we are going to celebrate a bit first.”

Espanyol came from two goals down to win the first leg at the Estadio Cornella-El Prat and they looked to be cruising when Rui Fonte made it 1-0 and 4-2 on aggregate shortly after halftime.

Infante leveled with just over half an hour left and the home side made a mockery of their humble status by laying siege to the Espanyol goal in the final stages, before Cesar netted the crucial goal in the second minute of stoppage-time.

Fans spilled onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes and the victory prompted messages of congratulation from Spain internationals, including captain Iker Casillas, defender Gerard Pique and midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

“Incredible. I am speechless. Spectacular, that’s what football is all about,” Fabregas wrote on his Twitter feed.

Bilbao are Mirandes’ likely opponents in the last four after they beat La Liga rivals Mallorca 2-0 at the San Mames last week.

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