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.

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 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.

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.

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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