Copa del Rey: Athletic 1 – 2 Atlético
Atleti set up a Copa date with fierce rivals
Atletico Madrid became the first team to win at the San Mamés on Wednesday night, as goals from Raul Garcia and Diego Costa helped eliminate Athletic Bilbao from the Copa Del Rey.
There were four changes made to the Atletico team that had played at the weekend with Rodríguez, Adrián, Raúl García and Juanfran, who had just returned from suspension, making the starting eleven.
Athletic Bilbao’s impressive placing in the league so far is much owed to their terrific home form having been, prior to this match, unbeaten there all season.
Bilbao were the stronger of the two teams in the first half despite nearly conceding immediately after the kick off. Diego Costa latched onto a lobbed pass from Koke and was left one on one with the goalkeeper but the Spanish national’s shot was denied by Iago’s leg. This was Atleti’s best chance of the first half as Bilbao pushed to level the tie.
It got worse for Atleti as the highly rated left back Filipe Luis overstretched his groin in the 15th minute.
The Argentine, Emiliano Insua replaced the Brasilian who could be out for a while.
Athletic Bilbao dominated the midfield and took advantage of Atletico’s players who were sitting deep in their own half. The tall Basque striker Aduriz caused serious problems for the Atleti defence and on the 26th minute he met a tempting cross from Susaeta but couldn’t find the target.
The pressure became too much to handle and on the 43rd minute Aduriz made no mistake as he headed home a cross from Balenziaga to make it one nil on the night and 1-1 on aggregate. Courtois was kept busy again as he made an outstanding double save which denied Iraola and Aduriz respectively.
Atletico ended the half one nil down and looked shell-shocked. Despite this, they emerged from the break ferociously as a single goal from them would force Bilbao to have to score a further two in order to proceed.
Simeone got exactly the response he wanted from his side as Diego Costa burst down the byline on the 47h minute to set up Adrian whose shot was deflected out for a corner. Costa was at it again as his header was kept out by an acrobatic save from Iago.
The resurgence from Atletico Madrid paid off as Raul Garcia netted a stunning volley on the 54th minute from a freekick which came about after Adrian was brought down by Mikel San Jose. The ball was despatched to Miranda who was unmarked and he flicked it on to Raul Garcia but his first attempt was kept out by Iago. After a scrambled clearance Cristian Rodriguez launched the ball back into the box where Raul Garcia was waiting and this time beat the keeper.
Athletic Bilbao continued to dominate possession but were never as threatening as they were in the first half. This was the case until the 65th minute when Mikel Rico, who was coordinating attacks in the centre of the pitch, was subbed off for Ibai Gomez. Due to this, Atleti began to find more room in midfield but that didn’t stop Ander Herrera from forcing a save out of Courtois with a long range effort. Adrian was replaced by Sosa in the 79th minute which was surprising in the fact that it took so long. The Asturian made little impact on the game and his poor form continues.
Ernesto Valverde further weakened his midfield by replacing Herrera and Susaeta with strikers in the hopes of stealing a winner. Atleti’s defence held firm and on the 86th minute got their reward. Koke regained possession in the middle of the pitch and played a through ball to Costa who had beaten the offside trap, the talisman couldn’t believe his luck as he passed Mikel San Jose and had only the keeper to beat. When he noticed the linesman had not flagged for offside he calmly rounded the keeper and passed the ball into the net, consequently killing the tie and making history as Atletico Madrid became the first team to beat Athletic Bilbao at home.
The win secured Atletico Madrid’s semi-final place as they progressed 3-1 winners on the night. Despite an unconfident first half performance, Los Rojiblancos came back from a goal down to make history. A Madrid derby in the semis can now distract Atletico fans from the injury to Filipe Luis.
|Aduriz 42'||Raul Garcia 55'|
|Diego Costa 86'|
|Copa del Rey|
|Nuevo San Mamés|
|29 January 2014|
|Kike Sola (73')|
|Filipe Luis (14')|
|Diego Costa (91')|