Real Betis wins the Copa del Rey on penalties against Valencia

Real Betis won their first major title in 17 years on Saturday, defeating Valencia 5-4 on penalties in the Copa del Rey final in Seville.

After normal and extra time finished 1-1, Valencia’s Yunus Musah blazed over in the shoot-out, enabling Juan Miranda to convert the winning penalty at La Cartuja as Betis won their fourth major championship in 115 years.

Borja Iglesias put Betis ahead, but Hugo Duro equalized for Valencia before halftime, and neither team could find a winner in the second half of extra time.

However, Musah’s gaffe and Miranda’s calm demeanor helped Betis win the cup for the third time in their home city, after their previous victories in 1977 and 2005.

Joaquin, the captain of Betis, raised the trophy when it was awarded to him by King Felipe VI of Spain.

“I’m crying tears of emotion, tears of delight,” Joaquin added. “It’s what we all wanted: to win the Copa del Rey again, as lovely as we know it is.”

Joaquin, the 40-year-old winger who made his debut for Betis in 2000 at the age of 19 and participated in the final 17 years ago, came in in the 86th minute and scored a penalty. It remains to be seen if he believes this is a suitable finale to a tremendous career.

“I’m going to savor the moment,” Joaquin stated. “We are Copa del Rey winners, and we dedicate this to everyone who has worked with us — the coaching staff, masseurs, chefs, waiters – everyone whose work is unseen but deserves as much praise as ours.”

Many described this as a battle of styles, with Betis’ swashbuckling approach charged with breaking down Valencia’s grit and perseverance, but both teams contributed equally to an open and thrilling final.

“Football can be both beautiful and brutal. It stings, “Valencia’s Jose Gaya said.

It was just the second final in 14 years that did not involve Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Atletico Madrid, and although Betis and Valencia are far from insignificant in Spain, there was no denying the significance of the event for both teams.

Valencia won the Copa del Rey in 2019, defeating Barcelona in the final, although a fire-sale of key players under the controversial ownership of Peter Lim means the club has been more worried with relegation than winning trophies in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, Betis have spent three seasons in the second division since their previous title in 2005, the same year they finished fourth in La Liga, a feat they still want to achieve this season but have never done before.

Betis raced out to a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, thanks to a beautiful move down the right that saw Nabil Fekir sneak past Hector Bellerin, who floated a magnificent cross into the box. Borja leaped high and went straight, his connection powerful enough to defeat Giorgi Mamardashvili.

Valencia rallied back in the 30th minute, a spectacular counter-attack giving them a footing in the final. Carlos Soler sped from the right flank into center midfield, where Ilaix Moriba had the opportunity to develop.

Duro was speeding away, but the margin was narrow, with Moriba slipping the ball through for his colleague, who scooped a lovely finish into the goal.

The second stanza became more intense, an end-to-end battle that pushed Betis back into the lead. Borja’s shot was brilliantly stopped by Gabriel Paulista of Valencia before Juanmi struck the post, his drive beating Mamardashvili but not the frame.

Fekir almost won it in the last ten minutes but was stopped by Mamardashvili’s legs, while Soler had a chance in injury time following a misjudged ball by Bellerin but Claudio Bravo saved him.

Joaquin had entered the fray with a fairytale in mind, but no one could pick a winner, and the quality fell in extra time as exhaustion and cramp set in.

Valencia’s Soler and Uros Racic scored confident penalties, which were equaled by Betis’ Willian Jose and Joaquin, despite Mamardashvili’s save on Joaquin’s attempt.

Goncalo Guedes and Andres Guardado were flawless, while Musah faltered by shooting over to let Betis in. Cristian Tello and Gaya both scored, giving Miranda the opportunity to win the game. Mamardashvili leaped to the right, and the ball landed to the left.

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