Athletic were expected to beat Intercity on Tuesday to kick off their Copa del Rey campaign, but a victory couldn’t be taken for granted. The new tournament format did away with the home and away leg system in favor of just one fixture which meant that there would be no room for error. In the buildup to the match Gaizka Garitano made it clear that the Lions would take it very seriously and that’s exactly what they did at Estadio Martínez Valero.
It would take the Basques just seconds to open up the scoring when Intercity failed to clear a ball into the box. After a defender missed an opportunity to send the ball away, it fell to Ibai Gómez who calmly settled and placed a shot inside the far corner to give Athletic an early 1-0 lead.
Athletic continue to look for more goals and were dangerous from set pieces and through balls. Beñat and Mikel Vesga did well with passes from the midfield while Gaizka Larrazabal and Ibai Gómez were constant threats out wide. In the end, the first half would end without a second goal but the Zurigorri knew they would need to score more to ensure safe passage to the next round.
The Basques came out strong after the break with Asier Villalibre attacking into space and the fullbacks pushing further up the field. Intercity did everything they could to clear chances and block shots as Athletic were awarded several penalties. Eventually, in the 53rd minute, Athletic would double their lead.
Larrazabal beat his defender on the right wing and played a low cross to the top of the box where Beñat was waiting. The midfielder immediately finessed a shot past the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 and give Athletic more peace. Intercity continued to attack but were unable to cause any real danger throughout the remainder of the game. After winning a penalty in the 85th minute, Kenan Kodro would score from the spot to give Athletic a 3-0 lead and the victory.
The draw for the second round of the Copa del Rey will take place on Friday with clubs from La Liga being seeded against teams from lower levels. After the draw, the next round of matches will take place around 12 January. Athletic are confident that they can make a deep run in the tournament and are determined to compete for the club’s 25th Copa del Rey title.