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Athletic defeated Mallorca in penalties to win the Copa del Rey

In Seville, Athletic Bilbao ended a 40-year wait to win the Copa del Rey by defeating Real Mallorca 4-2 on penalties on Saturday, after a 1-1 draw in extra time. This victory marked their 24th time lifting the trophy, placing them behind only Barcelona, who have won it 31 times. Dani Rodriguez put Mallorca ahead in the first half, but Oihan Sancet equalized soon after the break. Despite both teams’ efforts, the deadlock couldn’t be broken, leading to penalties. Athletic goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala saved Manu Morlanes’ penalty, and Mallorca’s Nemanja Radonjic missed his spot-kick, allowing Athletic to convert all four of theirs to secure the win.

Alex Berenguer scored the winning penalty, sparking celebrations among the Basque supporters. This victory brought an end to Athletic’s era of near-misses in the final, having lost in their previous six appearances. Their journey to the final included victories over Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, culminating in their first major trophy since 1984.

Nico Williams, the man-of-the-match, expressed his joy, stating, ‘This is incredible, we’ve made history. The team worked hard, the fans are always with us and they deserve it, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time.’ Mallorca, winners in 2003, started strongly, taking the lead through Rodriguez’s well-placed finish. However, Athletic fought back, with Sancet equalizing in the second half.

The game remained tense throughout extra time, with chances at both ends, but neither side could find a breakthrough. The shoot-out saw Muriqi score for Mallorca, but his teammates failed to convert their penalties, sealing victory for Athletic. Rodriguez expressed his pride in his team’s efforts, despite the defeat, stating, ‘It was a dream to lift this cup, and we tried until the end.- AFP

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