Vallecas (Spain) (AFP) – William Carvalho’s brilliant goal edged Real Betis one step closer to the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday as they beat Rayo Vallecano 2-1 in the first leg at Vallecas.
Rayo, who have never reached the final, took an early lead through Alvaro Garcia but Betis came storming back, Borja Iglesias driving in before Carvalho nutmegged Alejandro Catena and sidefooted into the corner.
Betis will now look to finish the job at the Benito Villamarin on March 3, with the winner of the tie to face either Valencia or Athletic Bilbao, who play the first leg of their semi-final at San Mames on Thursday.
Betis are the highest placed La Liga team left in the Copa del Rey this season after they knocked out Sevilla and Real Madrid were beaten by Athletic in the quarter-finals.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are sitting third in the league and pose a major threat to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona securing qualification for the Champions League.
But winning the cup for the first time since 2005 would perhaps be an even greater achievement.
Rayo, with Radamel Falcao, are the underdogs of the last four and their fans made it a carnival atmosphere at Vallecas, where supporters even watched from the balconies of flats close enough to the stadium to look over the pitch.
The players fed off the support in the opening 10 minutes and grabbed an early lead when Ivan Balliu chipped a cross to the back post, where Alvaro did well to tuck a controlled finish into the corner.
But the game settled and so did Betis, with Nabil Fekir increasingly influential and Rayo struggling to regain a foothold.
The equaliser came in the 26th minute when Fekir played into Borja on the edge of the area and he arrowed a shot, low and into the corner.
Betis might have taken the lead before half-time when Fekir spurned an excellent chance on the break but they did in the second, Carvalho poking the ball through the legs of Catena, collecting it the other side and sidefooting in to give his team the advantage.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Real Madrid look to Liverpool after goalless draw with Real Betis
- McKennie back in US squad for June friendlies, Nations League
- FIFA to announce 2026 World Cup host cities in June
- Rangers seek Scottish Cup silver lining after Europa pain
- Rangnick to meet Ten Hag as Man Utd seek Europa League salvation
- EPL commentators on NBC: May 22
- Marsch expects to stay on even if Leeds are relegated
- Bad blood stirred by scarf row ahead of German Cup final
- Gerrard only has eyes for Villa despite Premier League drama
- Stones, Walker returns boost Man City for final-day decider