Raul Garcia on Thursday scored a last-gasp equalizer to force extra-time and goalkeeper Unai Simon saved two penalties as Athletic Bilbao defeated Real Betis Balompie 4-1 in a shoot-out to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Garcia also scored one of the penalties after a 1-1 draw to help keep Athletic in contention for consecutive Copa titles. They are still to face Basque Country rivals Real Sociedad in the postponed final from last season.
“I’m proud of this team,” Garcia said. “We were in a complicated situation, losing until the last minute, but we always believed that we could come back.”
Inaki Williams, Jon Morcillo and Yuri Berchiche also scored for the 23-time Copa champions in the shoot-out. Simon saved the penalties taken by Sergio Canales and Juanmi Jimenez.
Two-time Copa winners Betis looked set to make it to the semis for the second time in three seasons after Juanmi scored with a volley from inside the penalty area in the 84th minute, but the visitors equalized in the fourth minute of stoppage-time with a header by Garcia from near the penalty spot after a cross from Inigo Martinez.
“When it gets to a penalty shoot-out it’s a lottery,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said. “We could see the semi-finals. We played a complete match.”
Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis went into the match unbeaten in eight consecutive matches in all competitions.
Athletic, who had only lost twice since coach Marcelino Garcia Toral took over at the beginning of the year, beat Barcelona last month in the Supercopa final.
“It was a tough night, but in the end things went our way in the shoot-out,” Toral said. “I think it was a fair result after how we played the game.”
The other Copa semi-finalists are Barcelona, Levante UD and Sevilla.
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