Athletic Club avenge Cup final defeat with epic win over Barca

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BILBAO, Spain, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Athletic Club Bilbao avenged last season's Cup final defeat in style when they knocked FC Barcelona out of the last-16 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday night with a 3-2 win in the San Mames Stadium.

Iker Muniain's penalty at the end of the first period of extra-time finally earned Athletic a place in the quarterfinals, after Barcelona had twice come back from a goal down, with their second equalizer coming with just seconds on the clock.

Only two minutes into the game, Nico Williams was set into space by Dani Garcia and although his low cross fell just behind Oihan Sancet, it met Iker Muniain who curled the ball past Marc Andre Ter Stegen and into the corner of the net.

Athletic were pressuring Barca high up the pitch and Barca left-back was struggling to contain the younger of the Williams brothers, whose pace was a constant threat.

Barca came into the game more as the half progressed and Ferran Torres ended their best move of the game with a drilled shot past Julen Aguirrezabala into the corner of the Athletic goal.

The sparked Athletic back into life in a thrilling first half, with Nico drawing a good save from Ter Stegen, who reacted well to deny Raul Garcia as the home side forced a string of corners just before halftime.

Athletic continued to have the better of things in the second half, but it wasn't until the 85th minute that Inigo Martinez put them back in front, with the defender scrambling the ball over the line after Alex Berenguer had headed Iker Muniain's free-kick across the face of goal.

That looked as if it would see Athletic through, but Pedri scored with just over a minute to play, firing the ball through a crowd of players to take the game into injury time.

Both Pedri and Ansu Fati would then suffer injuries as Barca paid a heavy price for their efforts, with Ansu leaving the pitch almost in tears after his latest setback.

The decisive moment came at the end of the first period of extra time when Jordi Alba handled Nico Williams' cross and after a VAR check, the referee pointed to the spot. Muniain sent Ter Stegen the wrong way from the spot and although there were still 15 minutes to play, there was way back this time for Barca.

In Thursday's other last-16 tie, Real Madrid progressed to the quarter-finals after coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 away to Elche in a game that went into extra time.

Gonzalo Verdu put Elche ahead from a free kick in the 103rd minute after Marcelo was sent off for a professional foul, but Isco drew Madrid level five minutes later and Eden Hazard scored the winning goal in the 113th minute.

Elche had a late equalizer ruled out and Pere Milla was sent off for his protests as Real Madrid went through. Enditem

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