In their first semifinal for the Copa del Rey in 86 years, Levante hosted Athletic Bilbao to a 1-1 draw in the first match on Thursday.
The teams will meet again for a second match next month, with Levante trying to reach the final for the first time and Athletic aiming to get there twice in a row. Last season’s Copa final between Athletic and Basque Country rivals Real Sociedad is yet to be played, as it was postponed to April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Athletic entered this year’s semi-final as a favorite against Levante, having already won the Spanish Super Cup in the final against Barcelona, after beating Real Madrid in the semi-final.
However, it was Levante who opened the scoring with a goal in the 26th minute of Gonzalo Melero, who suffocated on his first attempt, but had enough time to restart and find the net near the penalty spot. Melero had to be replaced in the second half with an obvious muscle injury.
Athletic gradually gained more control and Inyaki Martinez equalized with a header with a corner kick in the 58th.
Levante have won three of their last four games in all competitions, including at Real Madrid in the Spanish league and against Villarreal in the Copa quarter-finals.
Sevilla beat Barcelona 2-0 at home in the first match of the second semifinal on Wednesday. The rematch will be on February 27 at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona.
Athletic has been revitalized since coach Marcelino Garcia Toral arrived earlier this year, with his only two losses against Barcelona in the Spanish league. However, a short decline was expected, which included three games without a win.