Inaki Williams’ Athletic Bilbao beat Real Mallorca on penalties to win Copa del Rey

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Athletic Bilbao beat Spanish heavyweights Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on their way to the final

Athletic Bilbao ended their run of six successive Copa del Rey final defeats as they earned a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Mallorca to end a 40-year wait for silverware.

Athletic clinched their 24th Copa del Rey title – and first since 1984 – when Alex Berenguer stepped up to seal a 4-2 win in the shootout in Seville.

It sparked jubilant scenes at a sold-out La Cartuja stadium and ended Athletic’s painful recent run in the competition, during which they lost two finals in as many weeks in 2021.

Dani Rodriguez fired Mallorca – 15th in La Liga – ahead in the 21st minute after Athletic failed to clear from a corner.

Athletic, pushing for a top-four La Liga finish under former Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde, were denied an equaliser before half-time when Nico Williams’ finish was ruled out for offside.

But Oihan Sancet drew them level shortly after the interval, curling in after the influential Williams regained possession and played him through.

Neither side was able to find a winner, with Williams failing to hit the target in the second period of extra time while Mallorca’s Vedat Muriqi saw his header pushed away by Athletic goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala.

Mallorca, who played in Spanish football’s third tier as recently as 2018, were aiming to win the Copa del Rey for only the second time following their 2003 triumph.

But, in their 40th Spanish Cup final – the most recent two of which were both lost in April 2021 after the pandemic delayed the 2020 final – it was Athletic who were able to celebrate a long-awaited success.

In the shootout, the 23-year-old Agirrezabala saved Manu Morlanes’ spot-kick and Nemanja Radonjic missed the target, as Athletic’s first four penalty takers all found the net.

Only Barcelona, with 31, have won the trophy on more occasions than Athletic, Spain’s fourth-oldest club who maintain a unique philosophy of only fielding players of Basque origin.

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