A late Edgar Mendez goal shot Alaves into the first domestic cup final of their history as they hung on to defeat Celta Vigo 1-0 at the Mendizorrotza Stadium.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men claimed a commendable 0-0 draw in last week’s first leg and were good value for victory in the home leg, as second-half substitute Edgar secured a famous win in what was the club’s biggest match since losing to Liverpool in the 2000-01 UEFA Cup final.
Victory was nothing more than their general play deserved, as they showed far more attacking intent than their visitors – though Iago Aspas remained a real nuisance to them and went close to breaking the deadlock on two separate occasions in the first half.
Celta crafted the match’s first chance 12 minutes in, as Aspas flicked the ball through his marker’s legs and sent a controlled effort towards the bottom-left corner from a tight angle, only to see a full-stretch Fernando Pacheco brilliantly tip it just wide of the post.
The visitors were then made to worry shortly after, with Ibai Gomez‘s 20-yard free-kick landing on the roof of the net.
Although Alaves exerted more control in midfield, Celta continued to look a threat on the break and a moment of Aspas brilliance just before the half-hour mark nearly gave them a crucial away goal.
The striker latched on to a misjudged header down the right flank and looped a half-volley over Pacheco and, unfortunately for Celta, on to the top of the goal.
Alaves were starting to up the ante, though, with Sergio Alvarez denying Ibai Gomez from distance, before Deyverson slammed an effort over from 25 yards when he appeared to have the time to get into the box.
An historic night sees Alaves set up #CopaDelRey final meeting with holders Barcelona. 🏆
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) February 8, 2017
Alvarez was ultimately rendered helpless in the 82nd minute, however, as Edgar – brought on for Gaizka Toquero just a few moments earlier – burst through the Celta defence and applied a clever finish beyond the goalkeeper to wrap up a huge win in fitting style.
Alaves, who’ve never won a trophy, get a late winner to reach a first ever domestic cup final. Football, eh? pic.twitter.com/YDfjvlrBUp
— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) February 8, 2017
The Basque minnows will compete with Catalan giants Barcelona in the showdown due to take place on May 27 as a Luis Suarez goal was enough to see Barça over the line in a 1-1 draw at home against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night in Barcelona.
Suarez fired in a rebound from Lionel Messi‘s shot to put Barcelona ahead, but the Uruguay striker will miss the final after being dismissed for a second booking in the 90th minute of a game that helped his team to a 3-2 victory on aggregate.
Sergi Roberto was the first player to be sent off after collecting a second yellow card with more than half an hour remaining for a studs-first challenge of Filipe Luis. Atletico was reduced to 10 men shortly afterward following Yannick Carrasco‘s second booking for cutting down Arda Turan.
Messi almost added a second goal in the 77th with a free kick that rattled the crossbar, before the match swung Atletico’s way.
Moments after Kevin Gameiro had sent a penalty kick over the bar, the Atletico substitute striker equalized from Antoine Griezmann’s cut pass in the 83rd to add some drama to the finale.
Despite the elimination, Atletico coach Diego Simeone said he hoped his team could build on the strong performance, which also included a Griezmann goal incorrectly ruled off-side and a slew of shots.
“My team played with passion, with heart. We are out, but our heads are high,” Simeone said. “I pray we can keep playing like we did in the second half of the first leg and the entire match tonight. When you lose like this, something special can grow inside the team.”