Written by on April 9, 2024

Written by: Floyd Nkanyane

Athletic Bilbao finally won the Copa del Rey after 40 years by defeating Mallorca 4-2 in a penalty shootout. Dani Rodriguez put Mallorca in front in the 21st minute at a full La Cartuja, but Oihan Sancet equalized for Athletic shortly after half-time. There were no additional goals, so the match went into extra time and then penalties, where Alex Berengue netted the winning spot-kick.


4 Decades of Silver

Athletic Club defeated Real Mallorca in a penalty shootout to claim the Copa del Rey title for the first time in 40 years, putting an exciting end to their long wait for a trophy.
Bilbao converted all four of their penalty kicks, including the crucial one scored by Alex Berenguer, while Julen Agirrezabala, their goalkeeper, saved one and the other was shot over the bar.

It sealed a comeback victory that was needed after Mallorca surprised Athletic by taking an early lead against the flow of the game, with Athletic unable to clear a corner and allowing three shots on goal, the last of which ended up in the top corner courtesy of Dani Rodriguez.
Nico Williams was the only positive for Athletic in the first half, as he scored a goal that was disallowed and hit the side netting. It was therefore not unexpected when he set up the equaliser in the second half within five minutes. Oihan Sancet executed the final touch.
Mallorca’s strong defence prevented Athletic from scoring, leading the game into extra time and penalties, but their efforts were ultimately fruitless.


Breaking the long Trophy drought

 This was Athletic’s seventh important final in the current century and sixth final in the Copa del Rey. They had been defeated in all of the prior six matches.
This one was expected to be unique. For the first time, they were considered as the top pick, playing against a team 10 spots below them in the ranking, with a gap of 25 points between them in the standings, their superior quality should become apparent, right? During the first half, Athletic players were not at their best as they seemed to be feeling the pressure and were expected to control the game.

Athletic could have frozen at that moment, but they chose not to. In the second half, they began strong, quickly tying the game, and continued to show their dominance for the remainder of the match despite not being able to score a winning goal. Then, when it was time for penalties, which are the ultimate challenge of mental toughness and skill in stressful situations, they managed to do it. They have won the Copa del Rey after a drought of 40 years without a major trophy.

MVP of the game – Nico Williams (Athletic Club)

The only Athletic player who performed well in the first half continued his good form in the second, assisting in the equalizer and posing a threat for the entire 120 minutes. If a few situations had turned out differently, Mallorca would not have been able to contain him and he could have been part of more than one goal.

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