Goncalo Guedes’ stunning strike earned Valencia a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey semifinal second leg on Wednesday to take them back to the final three years after they won the title with a shock victory over Barcelona.
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It was no more than Valencia deserved as they dominated the match against a Bilbao side bidding to reach the final for the third consecutive season, after losing the last two to Real Sociedad and Barcelona.
Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Bilbao, Valencia, roared on by the crowd at a sold-out Mestalla stadium, created the better chances.
The attacking trio of Guedes and Spanish strikers Hugo Duro and Bryan Gil were a constant menace to the Athletic defence, but they hit a wall in the form of goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala, who made a string of crucial stops.
But even an inspired Agirrezabala could not prevent Guedes scoring what proved to be the winner in the 43rd minute, as the Portugal winger rifled an unstoppable 30-yard shot into the net following a corner.
“I saw the opportunity and took it. It was an incredible goal,” Guedes told reporters. “It was an amazing night, starting with the reception that we got outside the stadium, there were thousands of fans, they deserve this more than anything. It is for them.”
Valencia will face the winners of the other semifinal between Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano on Thursday. Betis lead 2-1 from the first leg in Madrid.