Athletic and Valencia draw in 1st leg of Copa del Rey semifinal

Sports Desk, Feb 10 (EFE).- Athletic Club and Valencia battled to a 1-1 draw Thursday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal, leaving the tie to be decided March 2.

The visitors were the better side at the start, but Athletic found their stride midway through the first half and began menacing Giorgi Mamardashvili’s goal.

Chances fell to Iñigo Martinez and Yuri Berchiche and Iñaki Williams hit the post before the hosts broke through in the 37th minute on a set piece.

Iker Muniain’s free-kick found Raul Garcia at the far post and the striker made it 1-0. Dani Garcia should have done better with an opportunity to double the lead ahead of the break.

The half ended with some pushing and shoving and the trouble continued as the teams poured through the tunnel, where Valencia’s Maxi Gomez – who spent the opening period on the bench – somehow picked up a red card.

Mamardashvili bested Williams early in the second half to keep the match close and the equalizer came in the 65th minute, when Hugo Duro pounced on a loose ball after Athletic keeper Julen Agirrezabala made a good save to deny Bryan Gil.

Athletic, who eliminated Copa holders Barcelona and LaLiga leaders Real Madrid to get this far, are trying to reach their third straight final.

Though their 23 Copa del Rey titles are second only to Barça’s 31, the Bilbao side last hoisted the trophy in 1984. EFE ro/dr

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