Athletic Bilbao defeated Barcelona 4-2 in extra time on Wednesday night, advancing to the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Ghana forward Inaki Williams made an impressive comeback from the Africa Cup of Nations to score the winning goal for his team at a packed San Mames Stadium.
Despite Gorka Guruzeta’s lightning-fast opening goal just 36 seconds, Barcelona took the lead in the first half through Robert Lewandowski and brilliant youth Lamine Yamal. However, Oihan Sancet levelled Athletic soon after the half, forcing an extra 30 minutes.
The Williams brothers would emerge as Athletic’s heroes in extra time. Inaki, who had only returned to Spain earlier that day from representing Ghana, scored after 112 minutes to put the hosts ahead 3-2. Nico, his sibling, then added gloss to the scoreline late on with a controlled finish.
The outcome puts more pressure on Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez, who is already under criticism. With his club struggling in La Liga and just losing to rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final, Xavi admits that Barcelona sorely needs silverware this season. After winning this tournament a record 31 times, their quest for number 32 is ultimately over.
Former Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde was the brains behind his former team’s demise. In a game full of twists and turns, he will be thrilled to advance to the Copa del Rey semi-finals at the cost of the Catalans.
This article was updated 4 weeks ago