Raul Garcia scored a last-gasp equalizer to force extra time and goalkeeper Unai Simon made two penalty saves as Athletic Bilbao defeated Real Betis 4-1 in a shootout to reach the Copa del Rey semifinals on Thursday.
Garca also scored one of the penalties after a 1-1 draw to help keep Athletic in contention for consecutive Copa titles. Later this year it will face Basque Country rival Real Sociedad in the postponed final from last season.
I’m proud of this team, Garca said. We were in a complicated situation, losing until the last minute, but we always believed that we could come back.
Iaki Williams, Jon Morcillo and Yuri Berchiche also scored for the 23-time Copa champion in the shootout. Simn stopped penalties taken by Sergio Canales and Juanmi Jimnez.
Two-time Copa winner 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 area in the 84th minute. But the visitors equalized in the fourth minute of stoppage time with a header by Garca from near the penalty spot after a well-placed cross by Iigo Martnez.
When it gets to a penalty shootout it’s a lottery, Betis midfielder Joaqun Snchez said. We could see the semifinals. We played a complete match.
Manuel Pellegrinis Betis was unbeaten in eight consecutive matches in all competitions.
Athletic, which has lost only twice since coach Marcelino Garca Toral took over the squad in the beginning of the year, beat Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final earlier this year.
It was a tough night but in the end things went our way in the shootout, Toral said. I think it was a fair result after how we played the game.
The other Copa semifinalists are Barcelona, Levante and Sevilla. The draw for the last four will be on Friday.
The semifinals will be played over two legs.