Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday moved closer to their fourth Copa del Rey final in 12 years by defeating Granada 1-0 in the first leg of their semi-final.
Iker Muniain scored the winner in the 42nd minute after an assist by Inaki Williams.
The goal had to be confirmed by video review, as it appeared that Williams controlled the ball with his arm before making the low cross for Muniain’s close-range shot.
The second leg is to be on March 5 at Granada, who are trying to reach their first Copa final in more than six decades.
“We could have scored more goals, but even if we had won 2-0, it still wouldn’t be over,” Athletic coach Gaizka Garitano said. “It’s a very even semi-final.”
Yesterday, Real Sociedad were to host second-division club CD Mirandes in the first leg of the other semi-final.
Sociedad eliminated Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, while Athletic ousted Barcelona.
Only the semi-finals are being played over two legs this season. All other rounds were played in single-elimination matches.
Athletic had most of the significant chances at the San Mames, with Granada threatening sporadically on counterattacks and with long-range shots.
The hosts had two goals disallowed for offside after video review, one in the 49th minute and another in the 61st.
“We needed to be more precise on the counterattacks, but it’s still up for grabs,” Granada coach Diego Martinez said.
Veteran Granada striker Roberto Soldado was shown a yellow card that is to keep him from playing the return match next month.
With 23 titles, Athletic are the second-most successful club in La Liga, behind Barcelona’s 30 titles.
Athletic are trying to reach their first final since 2015, when they lost to Barcelona. They also lost to the Catalan club the previous two times that they reached the final: in 2009 and 2012. Athletic’s last Copa title came in 1984.
Granada, back in the first division this season after a two-year absence, last played in the Copa final in 1959, when they also lost to Barcelona.
They had not reached the semi-finals since 1969 before eliminating defending champions Valencia in the quarter-finals.
Athletic are one point ahead of Granada in ninth place in La Liga.
COUPE DE FRANCE
Defender Mitchel Bakker on Wednesday needed only one minute to impress in his first start for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), when his cross led to an own-goal in a 6-1 win at Dijon FCO in the Coupe de France quarter-finals.
The 19-year-old Dutchman, who came up through the prestigious Ajax junior teams and plays as an attack-minded leftback, had only made one substitute appearance for PSG prior to the match.
However, he seized his opportunity, sprinting down the wing and hitting a firm cross toward striker Edinson Cavani that was turned into his own net by Dijon defender Wesley Lautoa.
Winger Pablo Sarabia scored twice for PSG, while Striker Kylian Mbappe and centerhalf Thiago Silva had one apiece, with another Dijon own-goal from defender Senou Coulibaly.
Bakker was involved in the build up to Sarabia’s first strike, while forward Mounir Chouiar netted for Dijon to make it 1-1.
PSG joined Coupe holders Stade Rennais in the last four.
Olympique de Marseille saw their 16-match win streak end, while playmaker Dimitri Payet limped off injured in a 1-0 loss at Olympique Lyonnais.
Midfielder Houssem Aouar’s clinical strike in the 81st minute ensured that Coupe de la Ligue finalists Lyon stayed on course for a double.
Marseille’s veteran backup goalkeeper Yohann Pele saved a penalty from striker Moussa Dembele in the 70th minute, but Marseille failed to make the most of a quick counteratttack following his stop.
Two minutes later, Payet sat on the ground — holding his left thigh and signaling for a substitution. It is doubtful that he can play in Sunday’s Ligue 1 match at Lille OSC.
In yesterday’s quarter-final, struggling first-division side AS Saint-Etienne were to travel to fourth-tier SAS Epinal, who knocked out Lille in the previous round.
Rennes, who beat PSG in last year’s final, advanced on Tuesday.
Fabian Ruiz on Wednesday curled in a shot from outside the penalty area to give SSC Napoli a 1-0 win at Inter in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.
Ruiz broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when the midfielder played a one-two with Giovanni di Lorenzo on the edge of the penalty area before weaving past three Inter defenders and bending the ball into the left side of the net, beyond the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Daniele Padelli.
Christian Eriksen almost leveled late on, with what would have been his first goal since joining Inter from Tottenham Hotspur, but his effort was deflected narrowly wide of the left post.
Inter have only one league loss this season — to Juventus — and are at the top of Serie A. SSC Napoli are 11th in the table, but had beaten Coppa holders SS Lazio in the quarter-finals.
Napoli are to host Inter in the second leg on March 5.
Inter have won the Coppa seven times, with their last triumph coming in 2011. Napoli won the last of their five Coppa Italia trophies in 2014.
AC Milan face Juventus in the other semi-final. The first leg was to be yesterday at the San Siro before the return match in Turin on March 4.
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