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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Copa del Rey: Barcelona knocked out as Williams duo fire Athletic Bilbao into semi-finals

The hosts grabbed an early lead with a Gorka Guruzeta strike from a rebound inside the first minute but Barca managed to hit back before the break with two goals within five minutes

Reuters Barcelona Published 26.01.24, 09:19 AM
Inaki Williams (left) celebrates with brother Nico after scoring Athletic Bilbao’s third goal against Barcelona during the Copa del Rey quarter-final match at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on Wednesday.

Inaki Williams (left) celebrates with brother Nico after scoring Athletic Bilbao’s third goal against Barcelona during the Copa del Rey quarter-final match at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on Wednesday. AP/PTI

Athletic Bilbao beat Barcelona 4-2 at home to knock them out of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday as brothers Inaki and Nico Williams struck in extra time in a breathtaking quarter final.

The hosts grabbed an early lead with a Gorka Guruzeta strike from a rebound inside the first minute but Barca managed to hit back before the break with two goals within five minutes.

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Athletic’s Yuri Berchiche attempted to clear the ball from his own six-yard box but it cannoned off Robert Lewandowski and into the empty net in the 27th minute.

Lamine Yamal then produced a moment of magic as he burst past three defenders to the edge of the box where he cut inside and slotted a brilliant strike just inside the
far post.

Athletic, however, fought back after the break and levelled in the 49th minute with a towering header by Oihan Sancet from a splendid cross from the left by Nico Williams.

As Athletic pushed for a third, with the skillful Nico Williams creating all kinds of trouble for Barca’s defence, they were often exposed on the counter and 16-year-old Yamal missed two easy chances from close range.

In extra time, Athletic turned their superiority into goals. First Inaki Williams fired home a rebound from his own close-range strike that came back off the post two minutes into added time before the break and Nico Williams secured the win in the last action of the game, with a fine curling strike into the top corner.

“Not even in the best of dreams I have seen this coming,” Inaki Williams, who just hours earlier had arrived from the Ivory Coast, where he played in the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana, told TVE.

“Everything went perfectly today (Wednesday). Yesterday (Tuesday) I couldn’t imagine being here after a very hard blow (Ghana’s elimination).

“I have to thank the club for helping me to be here as soon as possible and the fans for embracing me the way they did.”

Real Sociedad won 2-1 at Celta Vigo on Tuesday while Mallorca knocked out surprise La Liga leaders Girona 3-2 earlier on Wednesday.

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