Real Betis beat Valencia on penalties to win Copa del Rey
SEVILLE (AFP) - Real Betis won the Spanish Copa del Rey on Saturday (April 23), beating Valencia 5-4 on penalties in Seville after a thrilling final finished 1-1 after extra time.
Valencia's Yunus Musah blazed over in the shoot-out, allowing Juan Miranda the chance to score the winning penalty at La Cartuja as Betis claimed their fourth major trophy in the club's 115-year history.
Borja Iglesias had headed Betis in front but Hugo Duro equalised for Valencia before half-time and neither side could find a winner, either in the second period or extra time.
But Musah's error and Miranda's cool head gave Betis the cup for a third time, following the club's two previous triumphs in 1977 and 2005.
Joaquin, the 40-year-old winger, who made his debut for Betis aged 19 in 2000 and played in the final 17 years ago, came on in the 86th minute and scored a penalty. It remains to be seen whether Joaquin decides this is a fitting end now to what has been a remarkable career.
Many had billed this a clash of styles, with the swashbuckling style of Real Betis tasked with breaking down the grit and resilience of Valencia but in reality both teams contributed equally to an open and enthralling final.
It was only the second in 14 years not to include any of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico Madrid and while Betis and Valencia are hardly minnows in Spain, there was no doubting the weight of the occasion for both clubs.
Valencia won the Copa del Rey in 2019, beating Barca in the final, but a fire-sale of key players under the controversial ownership of Peter Lim means the team have been more concerned about relegation in recent seasons than winning trophies.
Betis, meanwhile, have spent three seasons in the second tier since they last won it in 2005, the same year they finished fourth in La Liga, which they still hope to replicate this season but have never managed to repeat since.
Betis flew out of the blocks and took the lead in the 11th minute, a slick move down the right seeing Nabil Fekir slide through Hector Bellerin, who floated a superb cross into the area. Borja jumped high and headed straight, the power of the connection enough to beat Giorgi Mamardashvili.
Valencia were shaking and Betis kept coming. Borja headed just wide and then almost latched onto a backpass underhit by Mouctar Diakhaby, which needed Mamardashvili to scramble clear.
But the Betis assault subsided and then in the 30th minute, Valencia struck, a brilliant counter-attack giving them a foothold in the final. Carlos Soler steered a superb first-time pass from the right wing into central midfield, where Ilaix Moriba had space to advance.
Duro was racing away but the gap was tight, Moriba feathering the ball through for his teammate, who scooped a delightful finish into the net.
The second period grew increasingly frantic, an end-to-end contest bringing Betis back into the ascendancy. Borja's effort was well blocked by Valencia's Gabriel Paulista before Juanmi hit the post, his drive beating Mamardashvili but not the frame.
Fekir almost won it in the last 10 minutes but was denied by Mamardashvili's legs while Soler had a chance in injury-time after a misplaced pass by Bellerin but Claudio Bravo made the stop.
Joaquin had come on, a fairytale in his sights, but nobody could find a winner and the quality dropped in extra time as fatigue and cramp set in.
Soler and Uros Racic scored confident penalties for Valencia, matched by those of Willian Jose and Joaquin for Betis, even if Mamardashvili got a hand to Joaquin's shot.
Goncalo Guedes put Valencia ahead and Andres Guardado pulled Betis level before Musah erred, firing over to let Betis in. Cristian Tello and Jose Gaya both scored, leaving Miranda with the chance to win it. Mamardashvili jumped right, the ball went left.