Athletic Bilbao

Copa del Rey
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Athletic Bilbao wins to set up Basque derby in Copa del Rey final

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MADRID — For the first time in more than a century, a Basque derby will decide the Copa del Rey.

Athletic Bilbao reached the Copa final for the fourth time in 12 years despite a 2-1 loss at Granada on Thursday, advancing on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate score to set up a title match against Basque Country rival Real Sociedad.

It will be the first time the two teams play for the Copa title since Athletic beat Sociedad in 1910 in the deciding match of a three-team mini-tournament.

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Neither club has won the cup in more than 30 years, with Athletic’s last title coming in 1984 and Sociedad’s in 1987.

Sociedad defeated second-division club Mirandes 1-0 on Wednesday to advance 3-1 on aggregate.

Athletic won 1-0 in Bilbao but was down 2-0 on Thursday after second-half headers by Carlos Fernandez and German Sanchez. Yuri Berchiche scored the decisive away goal after a run into the area in the 81st to secure his team a spot in the April 18 final in Seville.

Athletic, which only fields players born or raised in the Basque region, is the second-most successful club in the Copa with 23 titles, behind Barcelona’s 30. Athletic lost to the Catalan club the last three times it reached the final – in 2009, 2012 and 2015.

Two-time champion Sociedad last made it to the final in 1988, a year after it won its second title. The first came in 1909.

Granada was trying to reach its second Copa final, and first since 1959, when it lost to Barcelona.

Athletic eliminated Barcelona 1-0 at home in the quarterfinals, while Sociedad ousted Real Madrid with a 4-3 win at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

It’s the first time in a decade neither Barcelona nor Madrid made it to the last four.

More shocks as Athletic Bilbao knocks Barcelona out of Copa del Rey

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The giants are falling in the Copa del Rey.

Inaki Williams scored in stoppage time to lead Athletic Bilbao past Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, hours after Real Sociedad knocked Real Madrid out of the tournament.

Athletic Bilbao has won the second-most Copa del Rey titles in Spanish history, with 23 wins. Barca has the most with 30.

It’s the latest setback of a troubling season for Barcelona, who has already changed managers and seen plenty of inner turmoil.

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Williams turned an Ibai Gomez cross past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to clinch a place in the semifinals with Real Sociedad, Granada, and Cinderella story Mirandes of the Segunda Division.

The Copa del Rey will not include an El Clasico rival for the first time since 2010, when Sevilla beat Atletico Madrid.

Barca was awarded five yellow cards on the day including one to Lionel Messi, who was stopped 1v1 by Unai Simon moments before Williams won it.

Quique Setien’s Barca is three points back of Real Madrid in the race for La Liga, seven points clear of third-place Getafe. The season’s second El Clasico comes March 1 at the Bernabeu.

Espanyol identify 12 fans who racially insulted player

Racism in football
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BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish club Espanyol says it has identified 12 fans who racially insulted an Athletic Bilbao player in the Spanish league last weekend.

Espanyol said on Monday in a statement that nine of the fans were club members and would face punishment that could include suspension or a full-time ban.

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It said a report of its analysis of the video images of Saturday’s game at RCDE Stadium were sent to authorities.

The club reiterated its “categorical condemnation of any displays of violence and racism.”

The fans made monkey noises directed at Athletic forward Inaki Williams, who is black. Television images showed Williams confronting the section of Espanyol fans who taunted him after he was substituted late in the game in Barcelona.

The Spanish league said it will seek a partial stadium closure for Espanyol and will raise the incident with the Spanish soccer federation’s competition committee, which handles disciplinary issues.

Bilbao’s Williams: ‘I suffered racist insults’ at Espanyol

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BARCELONA, Spain — Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams says that he was a victim of racial abuse from fans while playing at Espanyol in a Spanish league game on Saturday.

Williams said after the 1-1 draw that “I suffered racist insults, something that no one wants to hear and has no place here.”

Williams, who is black, played 82 minutes of the match before being substituted.

“People should come to enjoy themselves, to help their team. This is a sport about friendship,” Williams said.

La Liga roundup: Real Madrid held to back-to-back draw (video)

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Real Madrid’s second consecutive league draw highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Madrid 0-0 Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona head into La Liga’s mid-season break with a two point cushion as Real Madrid were held to a draw by Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It’s Zinedine Zidane and company second consecutive draw as Los Blancos are just days removed from Wednesday’s stalemate at Camp Nou in El Clasico.

Despite controlling possession completely, Real Madrid were unable to break the deadlock. Nacho and Luka Modric each hit the crossbar, while subsitute Luka Jovic struck the post in the dying minutes of Sunday’s bout.

“I’m very disappointed for my players,”Zidane said in his post-match press conference. “They put in a lot of effort and had a good match, but we lacked a goal again. In football, it’s true that you have to score them. We had three or four in the first half where if you score then the match could be different.”

“It’s only a couple of matches without scoring, so we have to remain calm because the performance was good,” he added. “I think we’ve gotten better and we’re strong defensively. Today, we just lacked a goal, but the important thing is to create chances. After the match I spoke to the players and told them that the most important thing was that they gave their all. Today, the ball just didn’t want to go in. We hit the post three times.”

When the home side managed to put shots on target, Bilbao’s Unai Simon was there to prevent a goal. The Basque goalkeeper registered eight saves throughout the 90 minutes.

With the draw, defending champions Barcelona go two points clear of Los Blancos, who return to action January 4 when they visit Getafe, while Bilbao – now seventh on the table – go against Sevilla to start the new year.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 2-0 Espanyol 

Osasuna 3-4 Real Sociedad

Real Betis 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Levante 3-1 Celta Vigo