Luis Fernández's spot-kick sent Real Betis Balompié through to the Copa Del Rey final as tonight's semi-final at Athletic Club Bilbao went right down to the wire.
The first leg in Sevilla a fortnight ago ended goalless and there was a tangible feeling of anticipation at San Mamés tonight. The match got off to a vibrant start with Athletic in command for the opening 20 minutes but Betis held firm, and were soon creating chances of their own. Joaquín Sánchez and Benjamín Zarandonna menaced but the clearest chance fell to Andreu Melli, whose effort was brilliantly blocked by Iñaki Lafuente.
Proceedings were interrupted when a section of the stadium's floodlights failed at the start of the second half but play resumed within minutes and both teams went back into action. Athletic's appeal for a penalty when Juanito brought down Santi Ezquerro were dismissed and soon after, Fran Yeste and Tiko both forced Doblas to parry efforts.
Deadlock after full-time and extra time sent the game into a tense penalty shoot-out. The teams ended level on four successful spot-kicks after each had taken five penalties but Ezquerro's miss left Fernández the chance to seal victory, who he converted clinically. Betis, who will play in the final for the fourth time, will meet the winners of tomorrow's semi-final second leg between Club Atlético de Madrid and CA Osasuna.
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