Osasuna take 1-0 lead over Athletic in Copa del Rey semifinal

Sports Desk, Mar 1 (EFE).- Osasuna eked out a 1-0 victory Wednesday over Athletic Club in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.

The usual excitement and tension surrounding a Basque derby in Pamplona was amplified by the prize: a berth in the May 6 final in Seville.

Though the visitors from Bilbao are second only to Barcelona in Copa del Rey titles, having hoisted the trophy 23 times, Osasuna remain in pursuit of their first triumph in the competition.

Both teams were cautious to a fault in the first half.

Athletic showed more ambition and Iñaki Williams put the ball in the net off a rebound in the 14th minute, but the goal was disallowed for offside. Six minutes later, visiting captain Iker Muniain sent a strike over the cross-bar.

Less than two minutes into the second half, Abde Ezzalzouli broke the deadlock with a bit of individual excellence, controlling a pass from Moi Gomez on the counter and blowing past defender Daniel Vivian before beating goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala with a strike into the bottom right corner.

Playing with the lead, Osasuna were content to sit back and defend and they managed to keep Athletic well away from their goal until stoppage time, when Gorka Guruzeta forced a save from keeper Sergio Herrera.

The second leg is set for April 4 in Bilbao.

Real Madrid host Barcelona on Wednesday in the first leg of the other semifinal. EFE le/dr

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