Athletic Club beat Real Mallorca on penalties to win the Copa del Rey for the first time in 40 years, dramatically ending their trophy drought.

Bilbao scored all four of their penalties, with Alex Berenguer burying the decisive spot kick, while their shot-stopper Julen Agirrezabala saved one and saw another blazed over.

It capped a comeback win necessitated because Mallorca took an early lead against the run of play when Athletic failed to clear a corner, allowing three shots on goal, the third of which – from Dani Rodriguez – nestled in the top corner.

Nico Williams was Athletic’s lone bright spot in the first half, scoring a disallowed goal and also hitting the side netting, so it was no surprise he created the equaliser less than five minutes into the second period. Oihan Sancet applied the finish.

Mallorca’s resolute defending kept Athletic from scoring again and dragged the game first to extra time and then penalties, but their resistance was ultimately in vain.

TALKING POINT – ATHLETIC END LONG TROPHY DROUGHT

This was Athletic’s seventh major final this century and sixth Copa del Rey final. They had lost each of the previous six.

This one was supposed to be different. For the first time they were favourites, and against a side 10 places and 25 points below them in the table, surely their quality would show through? Not for the first half, when instead the pressure looked to be showing and with the onus on them to dictate the game, most Athletic players were below their best.

It would have been easy for Athletic to freeze at that point but they did not. They came out firing in the second half, quickly equalising, and their dominance was clear for the rest of the game even if they could not produce a winning goal to show for it. Then when it came to penalties, the ultimate test of mental strength and technique under pressure, they succeeded. After 40 years without a major trophy, they are Copa del Rey winners.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – NICO WILLIAMS (ATHLETIC CLUB)

He was the only Athletic player close to their best in the first half, carried that form into the second when he created the equaliser and remained a threat throughout the 120 minutes. Mallorca could not handle him and had fine margins gone the other way on a few occasions, he would have been involved in more than one goal.

PLATER RATINGS

Athletic Club: Agirrezabala 7, De Marcos 6, Vivian 7, Paredes 6, Berchiche 6, Prados 4, Galarreta 6, I. Williams 5, Sancet 6, N. Williams 8, Guruzeta 4. Subs: Vesga 6, Goemz 5, Muniain 5, Garcia 5, Berenguer 6, Lekue 5.

Real Mallorca: Greif 7, Gonzalez 5, Valjent 6, Raillo 7, Copete 6, Lato 6, Darder 5, Costa 7, Rodriguez 6, Muriqi 7, Larin 4. Subs: Sanchez 5, Morlanes 5, Radonjic 5, Maffeo 5, Nastasic 6, Van der Hayden 5.

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