Copa del Rey Recap: Musah, Valencia Reach Final

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Yunus Musah and Valencia reached their first Copa del Rey final since 2019, beating Athletic Bilbao in the home leg by the narrowest of margins to win the two-legged semifinal.

FC Valencia 1 – 0 Athletic Bilbao (agg. 2-1)

The USMNT starter Musah initially began the game on the bench, but was one of three substitutes called into action by Valencia head coach José Bordalás, entering the game for central midfielder Byran Gil in the 71st minute.

In his roughly 20 minutes on the field, Musah helped the team lock down the narrow lead, however still put in a tidy performance, with a perfect 6 for 6 passing rate amongst his 12 total touches.

The two teams had battled to a 1-1 draw in the opening leg several weeks ago, putting everything on the line in Valencia’s packed Mestalla.

Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili did fine work in the first half to keep their visitors off the board, first saving a close-range shot from Iker Muniain in the 21st minute, then denying Inaki Williams in a one-on-one four minutes before the break.

His heroics were duly rewarded, with the hosts jumping to the lead moments later. A Valencia free kick into the Bilbao area was headed clear, however it landed at the foot of Goncalo Guedes, who from more than 25 yards out, lashed his distance shot just inside the right upright for the lead.

Now in a do-or-die situation, Athletic came out after the break with a renewed attacking intensity, keeping pressure on Mamardashvili’s area as they searched for an equalizer, most notably when Yuri Berchiche’s free kick in the 75th minute forced the Georgian keeper into a save.

Musah entered the game with 19 minutes left in regulation, as the team locked down in order to ride out the victory. With the game in its final seconds, he did set up Carlos Soler for a shot in the area that was saved by the Bilbao keeper, however by the result was all but confirmed by that point.

Valencia will face the winner of Thursday’s other semifinal matchup between Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano in the final on April 23 in Seville. Betis have the advantage, leading 2-1 after the first leg, which makes them favorites to play for the title in their home city.

In the meantime, Valencia have three more games before the international break, beginning with a home game against Granada on Saturday.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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