Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Real Madrid: Berenguer’s late curler dumps Carlo Ancelotti’s side out of Cup


Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Real Madrid: Alex Berenguer’s late curler dumps Carlo Ancelotti’s side out of Spanish Cup and ends hopes of winning the treble

  • Athletic Bilbao knocked Real Madrid out of the Spanish Cup to reach semi-finals
  • Alex Berenguer curled in the only goal of the game late on at San Mames
  • Questions will be asked about Carlo Ancelotti’s changes in the second half
  • Athletic, who reached the last two Cup finals, beat Barcelona in the last round


Real Madrid were knocked out of the Spanish Cup by Athletic Bilbao thanks to an 88th minute winner from Alex Berenguer.

Marcelino’s side took the scalp of Barcelona in the last round and now they are in the semi-finals at the expense of Carlo Ancelotti’s team.

Questions will be asked about the Italian’s coach changes in the second half as Madrid failed to threaten Athletic.

Athletic Bilbao midfielder's Alex Berenguer sunk Real Madrid with an 88th-minute curler

Athletic Bilbao midfielder’s Alex Berenguer sunk Real Madrid with an 88th-minute curler

Real Madrid will now have to fully focus on their bid to win the LaLiga title after exiting the Cup

Real Madrid will now have to fully focus on their bid to win the LaLiga title after exiting the Cup

Questions will be asked of Ancelotti after he left Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard on the bench

Questions will be asked of Ancelotti after he left Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard on the bench

He left Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic on the bench with midfielder Isco at false nine and as Madrid failed to threaten at one end they were undone at the other.

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With two minutes left Casemiro gave the ball away to Mikel Vesga who fed Berenguer. The midfielder, on as a sub at half time for Nico Williams, turned Nacho and sat and arrowed his shot past Thibaut Courtois to settle the tie.

It was no more than Athletic deserved. They had started the game at a furious pace and not one more so than Dani Garcia. Courtois blocked his long shot before the same player forced a corner with another shot after Nico Williams had got the better of Edu Militao on the byline.

Garcia is not known for his scoring but it wasn’t long before his third shot inside the first 15 minutes went high and wide.

Athletic were flying into challenges and chipping away at Vinicius at every opportunity. He was also jeered by Athletic supporters, and told to get up by Dani Garcia after going down under one challenge – anything to intimidate Madrid’s most dangerous forward.

Several wild challenges from Raul Garcia went unpunished much to Ancelotti’s dismay and he was further displeased when the first card was for Toni Kroos for a late challenge on Yeray Alvarez.

Athletic were flying into challenges and chipping away at Vinicius at every opportunity

Athletic were flying into challenges and chipping away at Vinicius at every opportunity

Athletic Bilbao's Nico Williams (centre) came off crying with what looked like a torn hamstring

Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams (centre) came off crying with what looked like a torn hamstring

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro's slip proved costly and led to Berenguer curling home

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro’s slip proved costly and led to Berenguer curling home

Madrid were less threatening and it was minute 27 when they had their first shot on target from Rodrygo, comfortably saved by Julen Agirrezabala. In the absence of the injured Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio was at false nine but was struggling to make any impact in front of a below par midfield.

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Five minutes before the break Kroos played the ball across the face of his own area straight to Muniain and he teed up Inaki Williams who would have scored had Lucas Vazquez not blocked.

Dani Garcia was then booked for clipping Vinicius’ ankles. Referee Jesus Gil made it clear the caution was for multiple offenses – it was his fourth foul from him.

Just before half time Athletic were dealt a blow when super sonic Nico Williams hobbled off crying. It looked as he’d torn a hamstring after a quick break in behind Real Madrid’s defence.

Athletic started the second half without their flying winger and with Berenguer on. Despite the change they were still as strong. Iñigo Martinez would have headed in Muniain’s free-kick but for a big Courtois right hand blocking it. Raul Garcia then headed another Munian set-piece wide.

On the hour Vinicius – not yet 48 hours back from two starts for Brazil in South America – went off replaced by Isco who took over from Asensio at false nine.

Berenguer's goal sent Athletic into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey for a third year in a row

Berenguer’s goal sent Athletic into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey for a third year in a row

Athletic's fans packed out San Mames and savored another memorable win in the Cup

Athletic’s fans packed out San Mames and savored another memorable win in the Cup

With 15 minutes left Kroos was the next to be taken off. He didn’t think much of the change and it was hard to work out why Ancelotti was leaving his flat forward line untouched despite having Hazard, Jovic and Bale on the bench.

At the other end Athletic’s old problem of not being able to finish was haunting them once more and another Muniain cross went straight across the area with no one to convert it.

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But one slip from Casemiro and one brilliant finish from Berenguer arrived just before full time. And in six added minutes Madrid could not prevent elimination. The treble is off and Athletic are 180 minutes from their third straight Copa del Rey final.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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