Athletic Club 3-0 Atlético Madrid (Feb 29, 2024) Game Analysis

Brothers Inaki and Nico Williams scored to help Athletic Bilbao secure a 3-0 semi-final win over Atletico Madrid on Thursday and a 4-0 aggregate victory that sent the Basque side into their third Copa de Rey final in the last five years.

Ernesto Valverde’s team punished the visitors with clinical counter-attacks, starting when Inaki Williams struck in the 13th minute with a superb volley from his brother’s cross.

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Inaki returned the favour to his younger sibling in the 42nd minute, setting up Nico for a simple close-range finish.

“Our connection is real and it’s working very well, we understand each other,” Nico Williams told TVE. “I’m delighted, it’s a dream to reach the final and to do it in front of our fans that were fantastic as always. Athletic can do it all and hopefully win the final.”

Bilbao continued to dominate and Gorka Guruzeta wrapped up the win for the Basque side from a rebound in the 61st minute.

There was fan trouble ahead of Thursday’s match at San Mames Stadium, with Atletico saying one of their supporters was hospitalized with serious injuries after an altercation with Athletic fans at a nearby bar.

Athletic Club players celebrate after scoring a goal against Atletico in the Copa del Rey.
Athletic Club players celebrate after scoring a goal against Atletico in the Copa del Rey.

Also, the start of the second half was delayed for more than 15 minutes as medics attended to an Athletic supporter in the stands. The fan reportedly had a cardiac arrest and was taken out on a stretcher. Initial reports by Spanish media said his condition was not serious.

Bilbao will face Mallorca, who beat Real Sociedad 5-4 on penalties in the semis, in the final in Seville on April 6.

Athletic Club are the second most successful club in the Copa with 23 titles, eight less than Barcelona. They last won the competition in 1984, but were runners-up in 2019-20 and in 2021-21, losing to Sociedad and then Barcelona.

Atletico, a 10-time Copa winner, were in the semifinals for the first time in seven seasons and seeking a first title since 2013.

Diego Simeone’s team was without forward Antoine Griezmann because of an ankle injury.

Athletic’s 1-0 win at the Metropolitano in the first leg ended Atletico’s 28-match unbeaten streak at home across all competitions.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this story.

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