FOOTBALL – The 120th final of the Copa del Rey took place last night at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville. And what an exciting match it turned out to be as Real Betis and Valencia fought to the end.
According to Telecinco, the match was followed by over 5.3 million viewers. That equated to a stunning 36.7% of the total viewing audience at that time. This even reached over 50% (more than 6 million fans) of the total viewers when the game went to penalties.
The first goal
Five minutes into the game, a yellow card was shown to Valencia´s Gabriel Paulista for an off-the-ball incident that saw Iglesias on the ground with his hands at his face. Then, a few minutes later, the first goal of the match came at the 11-minute mark. Bellerín raced down the right flank and sent the cross to Iglesias who headered the ball home putting Betis ahead. This put Iglesias top of the scoring table for the Copa del Rey this season, with 5 goals under his belt.
Another yellow card with given to Carvalho when his tackle stopped Guedes from the counterattack. The first half continued at a fast and furious pace with chances for both teams. However, it wasn´t until 30 minutes in, that Hugo Duro found the net for Valencia. Valencia was now back in the game. The pace remained intense throughout the rest of the first half, with any side more than capable of scoring. But, at the end of the 45 (+2) minutes, it was 1-1.
Valencia was denied their cries for a penalty at the start of the second half. Duro went down in the penalty area, but the referee allowed play to continue. Both sides continued with chances to score at both ends. But with narrow misses and excellent saves, the game remained deadlocked at 1-1. Four minutes before the 90, Juanmi is taken off. He is substituted by 40-year-old Joaquín Sánchez. Three minutes were added, but the full-time whistle sounded, and the score was still 1-1 which put the game into extra time.
The last time Betis lifted the Cup was in 2005. At the time, Joaquín was just 23 years old and in the starting 11. This time, 17 years later, he was once again part of the team.
Two 15-minute halves were played giving both sides the chance to score the winning goal. But, once again, although there were chances, the players were also tired. However, Valencia came close as Fekir was brought down on the edge of the penalty. It was not to be, as the referee waved play on. Only one minute was added to each. The players had given everything, and there was still no breakthrough. The Copa del Rey final was down to penalties.
Valencia stepped up first with a fantastic goal high in the net from Solar. Next up was José, who sent the keeper the wrong way and scored. Racic was next to score for Valencia. Captain, Joaquín kept it level for Betis. Guedes struck it hard high into the corner. Guardado followed putting the ball low into the corner of the net. Everything was very tense as it stood at 3-3 for the penalties. Then came the turn of Mussah who failed as he saw his shot go high into the air. Tello makes it 3-4 for the Andalucians. It was now the turn of Valencia captain, Gaya. He didn´t disappoint. The score was back to level again. Everything now was on the shoulders of 22-year-old Betis defender, Miranda.
At this point, the atmosphere was electric. Miranda had also been at the game the last time Betis won the Copa del Rey. However, at that time he was there as a 5-year-old fan. Miranda sent the Valencia keeper the wrong way and put the ball in the net making it 4-5. There were tears from both sides. But Real Betis lifted the Cup, and as such qualified for the UEFA Europa League.
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