Athletic Juvenil A Defeat Rayo Vallecano 2-1 On Aggregate To Advance To The Cup Semifinals
Athletic Club Juvenil A manager, Aritz Solabarrieta, has done an amazing job this season. He’s led one of the best generations of players in recent memory to a league victory and they are now deep in a cup run that they could realistically win. After an 8-2 aggregate win over Deportivo they were drawn against Rayo Vallecano in the quarterfinals which posed a very difficult task. The side from Madrid boasted a strong squad and that meant that the Cachorros needed to be at their best if they wanted to advance to the next round.
The first leg took place at Lezama and it was clear that the Cachorros meant business. They dominated possession and scoring chances, but the game was still close. Just five minutes into the match Keenan Mendibelzua put Athletic ahead thanks to some help from Oihan Sancet and Jon Cabo. Around the hour mark Rayo would level the score before Cabo scored the winner in the 75th minute with an assist from Juan Artola. There were opportunities for more goals but they never materialized.
Even though Athletic were ahead 2-1 going into the second leg, it wasn’t a comfortable lead. Rayo would be playing at home and only needed one goal to turn things around. Solabarrieta kept most of the same starting lineup in tact, but did take a more conservative approach in defense. Throughout the entire game both sides traded chances back and forth but in the end there would be no goals. The scoreless draw meant that the Cachorros had won 2-1 on aggregate to advance to the semifinals of the Cup.
Whoever Athletic are drawn with in the next round, it won’t get any easier. Every team that has made it this far is extremely talented and everyone has a realistic shot at winning the Cup, including the Basques. If players like Unai Vencedor, Jon Cabo, Ruben Azcona, and Oihan Sancet continue to play at a high level, there is no reason why they can’t lift the trophy. For now, they must wait until Monday to find out who their opponents will be in the next round.