Sociedad beat Athletic to win delayed Copa del Rey final

Mikel Oyarzabal’s penalty earned Real Sociedad their third Copa del Rey trophy after a 1-0 win over rivals Athletic Bilbao in the postponed derby final from last season.

The 2019/20 final was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic and continued to be pushed back in a bid to let fans attend, but they still cannot go to matches in Spain, Xinhua news reports.

Athletic immediately have another chance to lift the trophy in this season’s cup final on April 17, against Barcelona, also at Seville’s La Cartuja stadium.

They last reached the final in 2015, where they were beaten by Barcelona, and have not won it since 1984, even though they are second in the list of record winners with 23 triumphs.

Saturday’s tight game was opened up shortly after the hour mark when Inigo Martinez fouled Portu in the area as he burst through on goal, leading in a penalty and a red card for the Athletic defender.

The expulsion was revoked after a lengthy VAR review but Oyarzabal fired home from the penalty spot to send Real Sociedad ahead.

The goal proved decisive to earn La Real their first Copa del Rey win since 1987, a bitter blow for Martinez, who left his boyhood club Sociedad for Athletic in 2018.

“It’s a beautiful day where you remember everything,” said Oyarzabal.

“Giving this to our fans was the best thing that we could do. There’s a lot of people I would have liked to be here. This is for everyone, it’s incredible. We are champions and we’ll celebrate it without a doubt.”

Athletic chased the game but failed to create much danger, even in the final stages as Sociedad held on comfortably to earn their first major trophy in over three decades.

Los Leones, meanwhile, have now lost five cup finals since they last lifted the trophy.

“This is very tough for us,” said Athletic’s Oscar de Marcos. “It was a game we had a lot of hope for and we thought we could win it.

“It’s a really big blow for us to take. Finals are hard when you lose, whoever the opponent is. It’s a very sad day for us. We missed our fans.”