Valencia in final after super comeback
Current Copa Del Rey holders Valencia ensured their place in a second successive final after a fantastic team performance saw them overturn a first leg deficit to overthrow Atlético Madrid and secure a place in the final. The holders came into the second leg of the final, delayed due to the progress of Atlético in the Champions’ League, 1-0 down from the first leg following a solitary goal from Héctor Herrera in the first leg, and were dealt a blow in the build up as first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen picked up a knock in training, meaning Jaume Doménech freshly recovered from flu, would once again take up the reins between the posts.
Hosts Atlético looked to extend their advantage in the first minute, goalscorer from the first leg Herrera getting up well to win back a Doménech goal kick, before Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix then fed the ball to Yannick Carrasco, but after showing superb control to find the space the Belgian winger dragged his eventual shot wide of the upright, failing to test Doménech. Just 7 minutes later it was the visitors who were to grab the opening goal, pulling themselves level on aggregate, after some fine play. Starting with a José Gayà throw-in on the left hand side, the ball was picked up by Daniel Wass who opted to lay the ball back to Gabriel Paulista on the half way line. In turn the defender then opted to go all the way back to his keeper, Doménech waiting to draw out the press before slipping the ball on to Diakhaby, who played a superb ball out to Jason, who had found some space inside on the right. The winger took a touch before playing a superb chipped pass through to Gonçalo Guedes, who was again playing up front, the Portuguese international providing a superb right footed finish beyond Jan Oblak to give the visitors the lead on the night.
In a match with few telling chances, Valencia grabbed a vital second with just 20 minutes to go, skipper Gayà again involved, this time from a direct free-kick on the right hand side of the box. The captain opted to shoot, and with Oblak scrambling across his goal at full stretch to keep it out, winger Nicolás De La Cruz was perfectly placed to fire home the rebound into the empty net with the keeper still stranded, showing a superb turn of pace to react quicker than Felipe to latch onto the loose ball before applying the finishing touch, handing Valencia the aggregate lead in the tie.
With hosts Atletica staring defeat in the face, they unsurpisingly opted to push forward, changing formation to have 4 men effectively forward, which in turn prompted Valencia to throw on Eliaquim Mangala for Maxi Gomaz and switch to five at the back in an attempt to neutralise the threat and protect the advantage. The home side did get a sniff in the final minute, pressing forward the ball was eventually worked to Marcos Llorente, but he failed to get much purchase on the ball, his tame effort proving to be an easy save for Jaume Domenech, who then held onto the ball before the referee signalled the end of the match and a famous fightback for Valencia.
Los Che, who currently hold the cup by virtue of the covid-affected campaign last season, will now face Real Madrid in the final as they look to win the trophy for the 9th time. Real find themselves in the final courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate win against local rivals Getafe, winning both legs 2-1 with Marcos Asensio and Luka Jovic scoring in the second leg as they came back from a goal behind after just 16 minutes. The final is due to be played next month, ironically at the Metropolitano, scene of the fantastic comeback from Valencia.Share this: