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Chants and scarves fill the San Mamés air


The referee was just moments away from blowing the final whistle at San Mamés when Berenguer dribbled in and fired across an incredible left-footed shot, unreachable even for the great Courtois these days. It was a goal of the highest order, a reward for Athletic's worthy effort throughout the match to break down a Madrid side with a solid defence and an ineffective front line.

Without Benzema and with Vinicius weighed down by jet lag, Madrid's attack was non-existent. And, incidentally, Hazard and Bale's failure to show up on such a night only adds to the scale of the disappointment of this pair of flawed stars.

Athletic started the stronger

We were only nine minutes into the game when Dani García unleashed an effort from the edge of the box that Courtois responded to with a save that justified Ancelotti's omission of Lunin. San Mamés is no place for concessions and Madrid made none.

They came out the blocks cautious, awaiting an Athletic avalanche attacking with the two Williams, Raúl García and Muniain, pushed forward by the rest. And Madrid couldn't get any respite from this onslaught as Vinicius was clearly suffering from jet lag.

Athletic Club's Alex Berenguer celebrates his goal with teammate Iker Muniain.
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Athletic Club's Alex Berenguer celebrates his goal with teammate Iker Muniain.DPA vía Europa Press

Ancelotti substituted him and replaced him with Isco, but that didn't improve Madrid's attack, not even when Athletic dropped off the pressure on the hour mark and, in turn, became cautious themselves. As tiredness crept in, Marcelino freshened up his side well and they weathered Madrid's attacks with no problems until one of their responses saw Berenguer, who had come on at half-time for the younger Williams, unleash that great shot that sent San Mamés into raptures.

It was not like the night against Barça, which was unrepeatable, but it confirmed Athletic's clear desire to go once again for the cup, their favourite competition since the dawn of time.