2nd-tier Mirandés ousts Villarreal to reach Copa semifinals

MADRID (AP) — Small second-division club Mirandés pulled off another upset in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, eliminating Villarreal 4-2 to reach the competition’s semifinals for the second time.

The club from Miranda de Ebro, a city of about 35,000 people in northern Spain, had stunned two other first-division clubs in previous rounds — five-time champion Sevilla in the last 16 and Celta Vigo in the round of 32.

“Hi Spain, hi world,” the club posted on Twitter. “We keep making history.”

Players stayed on the field for several minutes after the match to celebrate and chant with the fans. The stadium’s announcer had asked the crowd not to invade the field after the final whistle.

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Mirandés played in the Copa semifinals in 2011-12, losing to Athletic Bilbao. It made it to the competition’s quarterfinals in 2015-16.

The club has never played in Spain’s first division. It is in 11th place in the 22-team second-tier standings.

Villarreal, seventh in the first division, was trying to reach the Copa semifinals for the first time since 2015, when it lost to eventual champion Barcelona. It hadn’t made it to the last eight since that season.

“It is my worst defeat with Villarreal,” coach Javier Calleja said. “We came into the match with a lot of confidence. We leave very upset. We have to congratulate Mirandés for what it has been able to achieve. ”

Matheus Aias opened the scoring for Mirandés in the 17th minute after getting past a defender outside the area and another inside the box. The visitors equalized less than 15 minutes later with a well-struck free kick by Javier Ontiveros.

Mirandés retook the lead with Martin Merquelanz converting a penalty awarded by video review in first-half stoppage time, and Santi Cazorla evened the match with another penalty in the 56th.

The hosts went ahead again two minutes later. Odei Onaindia, whose handball prompted the penalty for Villarreal, scored with a close-range touch after the visitors failed to clear a cross by the far post.

Antonio Sánchez sealed the victory after a breakaway in stoppage time.

“We weren’t going to come here and win the match just because we are in the first division and they are in the second,” Villarreal midfielder Vicente Iborra said. “We are upset because we wasted a great opportunity to be in the semifinals.”

Mirandés was the only lower-division club still alive entering the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Granada eliminated defending champion Valencia on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Real Madrid hosts Real Sociedad and Barcelona visits Athletic Bilbao.

The Copa is being played in single-elimination games this season, except in the semifinals.

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