Copa del Rey semi-finals first-leg report: Athletic Club and Levante have it all to play for (1-1)

Levante travelled to Estadio San Mames as the underdogs in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg, but took the lead against Athletic Club to give them hope for the second leg after a balanced first encounter.

From the start, Paco Lopez's team showed fight and character on the field, with few chances but both teams getting stuck in to a hard-fought battle.

Athletic struggled to cope with Levante's initial energy and Gonzalo Melero capitalised on 26 minutes when Jorge de Frutos found him in the box.

Taking a tough, with time and space in the box, he then rocketed a shot past goalkeeper Unai Simon as the Athletic Club defence could only watch on.

Marcelino spotted what was going wrong and made changes at half time, with three substitutions at the break, and the Basque side were back in the game.

Just four minutes into the second half, Raul Garcia's header tested Daniel Cardenas, but it was Inigo Martinez who headed his effort into the back of the net with a header from a corner 10 minutes later.

As Levante tired, Athletic grew into the game but neither side was willing to sacrifice any ground with both teams clearly conscious that another 90 minutes is left to play in Valencia.

Levante lost one of their star performers, goalscorer Melero, to injury but continued to fight to see out the draw in their away leg.

It is all still to play for in the Copa del Rey semi-final for these two teams, with both looking to write themselves into the history books with a cup final appearance.

Source: Marca / Sam Leveridge
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