Valencia scores late to draw with Betis in Copa semifinal
MADRID (AP) — Valencia is getting used to some late heroics in the Copa del Rey.
After scoring twice in stoppage time to advance from the quarterfinals last week, Valencia salvaged a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the semifinals against Real Betis thanks to an injury-time equalizer.
Betis took a 2-0 lead on Thursday with a goal scored directly from a corner kick early in the second half, but Kevin Gameiro's late strike gave Valencia the slight edge going into the return match at home later this month.
In the quarterfinals, Valencia had defeated Getafe 3-1 at its Mestalla Stadium with two goals by Rodrigo in added time to overcome a 1-0 first-leg loss.
"It wouldn't be smart to think that we've already done enough to make it to the final," Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia said. "We have to stay humble and respect our very good opponent."
Betis is hoping to be back for the May 25 final at its Villamarin Stadium in Seville, which saw a record crowd of 57,123 on Thursday. The other semifinal is being played by four-time defending champion Barcelona and Real Madrid, who drew 1-1 in their first leg on Wednesday at Camp Nou.
Betis opened the scoring with a goal by Loren Moron just before halftime, and veteran Joaquin Sanchez added to the lead with the rare corner kick goal less than 10 minutes into the second half.
The 37-year-old midfielder curled in a mid-height shot from the left corner and Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech couldn't get back in time to make the save before the ball crossed the goal line. The officiating crew initially let play continue, but a video review quickly confirmed the goal.
Russia forward Denis Cheryshev pulled one back for Valencia with a 70th-minute header after Gameiro's cross, and the French forward evened the match from close range after a well-placed low pass by Rodrigo two minutes into stoppage time.
"We can't be happy after conceding the equalizer like that. We should have closed the match," Moron said. "It was tough, but we still have the return match to play and we still have a chance to advance."
Valencia is back in the semifinals for the first time since 2012. It hasn't made it to the final since it won the last of its seven titles in 2008.
Betis hadn't reached the last four since it won the second of its two Copa titles in 2005.