Abde Ezzalzouli goal gives Osasuna narrow Copa del Rey lead against Athletic Club
Pamplona (Spain) : A 47th-minute goal from Moroccan international winger Abde Ezzalzouli gave Osasuna a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Athletic Club Bilbao, here.
The winger found space on the left and after beating Athletic defender Dani Vivian for pace, he scored with a left-foot shot that went in off the base of the post to give his side a slender advantage in a hard-fought game with few chances.
The match kicked off in front of a capacity of 23,000 crowd in Osasuna’s El Sadar stadium on Wednesday night, with most of the fans hoping to see their side take a step towards booking their first cup final appearance since 2005, a Xinhua report said.
As expected in a semi-derby, the game was tense and tight, with neither side wanting to give much away in defense. Osasuna started the stronger of the two sides with Eze Abde seeing a shot deflected wide.
Athletic got more into things as the game progressed, with Alex Berenguer forcing Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera to get down to gather at his feet. Herrera then saved a deflected effort from Iker Muniain and although Inaki Williams had the ball in the net, he was clearly offside.
Abde was causing Athletic problems with his pace, but the Moroccan international winger was unable to put a final ball into the area. That all changed at the start of the second half when he was given too much space by the visiting defense and was able to finish in style.
Osasuna were content to cede the initiative to the visitors after the goal, but despite putting Osasuna under increasing pressure in the closing minutes, the only clear chance Athletic created was through substitute Gorka Guruzeta who shot straight at Herrera in injury time. The return leg is in Bilbao on April 4.
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