Marcelino lauded Athletic Bilbao, who will contest two Copa del Rey finals within a fortnight after overcoming Levante on Thursday.

Athletic saw off Levante 2-1 in extra time and 3-2 on aggregate to set up a showdown with LaLiga giants Barcelona in the Copa del Rey decider next month.

Supercopa de Espana champions after upstaging Barca in January, Athletic reached last season's Copa final but, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, they are yet to play it – the match against their rivals Real Sociedad set for April 3.

Athletic are now gearing up for two finals in the space of 14 days next month, with a clash against Barca scheduled for April 17.

"These players have made Athletic Club history and sometimes that only happens once in a lifetime," Athletic head coach Marcelino said.

"They had to make the most of the moment and they did so."

Alex Berenguer's deflected, extra-time winner sealed Athletic's progress to back-to-back finals and saw them equal Real Madrid on 39 appearances in Copa del Rey deciders.

It completed a turnaround for the 23-time Copa winners, with Raul Garcia's penalty having cancelled out Roger Marti's opener.

"We are going to take it step by step and enjoy today at least," Raul Garcia added.

"I am very happy because of all the work behind this and hopefully it will be a historic year.

"It's an honour to fight alongside this group of friends.

"We have a lot of confidence in each other, always help each other and that's what is giving us the results."

Athletic and Barca will play their ninth Copa final – the most-contested fixture in the competition's history.

In fact, Athletic will become in the first team to play two Copa del Rey deciders in the same month.

Raul Garcia scored twice as Athletic Bilbao secured a rare 2-1 win over holders Real Madrid to set up a Supercopa de Espana final against Barcelona.

Athletic had won only one of their previous 22 matches against the LaLiga champions but beat them for the first time since March 2015 at La Rosaleda on Thursday to hand Marcelino his first victory.

Raul Garcia was set up by Dani Garcia for the opening goal and struck again from the penalty spot to stun Madrid in the first half.

Karim Benzema reduced the deficit after Marco Asensio struck the woodwork twice, but Bilbao held on to end Madrid's nine-match unbeaten run and ensure they will do battle with Barca for the trophy at Estadio de La Cartuja on Sunday.

Athletic did not allow Madrid to settle and they were in front in the 18th minute when Dani Garcia picked up a sloppy pass from Lucas Vazquez and threaded an incisive ball through for the unmarked Raul Garcia to slot beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Having flashed a venomous shot wide as the Basque side continued to press Los Blancos high up the pitch, the experienced midfielder was on target again seven minutes from time.

Another lapse from Vazquez proved to be costly, the defender bundling over Inigo Martinez and Raul Garcia sending Courtois the wrong way with an expertly taken spot-kick seven minutes before the break.

Nacho Fernandez replaced Raphael Varane at half-time and Iker Muniain ought to have put Athletic three goals to the good when he nodded Oscar De Marcos' cross wide of the near post from close range.

Asensio twice came close to halving the deficit in quick succession, rattling the near post from close range before striking the crossbar with a rasping long-range drive.

Benzema pulled one back when he was ruled onside following a VAR check after the flagged was initially raised with 17 minutes remaining.

France striker Benzema had the ball in the back of the net again but this time he was ruled to be offside after Courtois denied Asier Villalibre and Sergio Ramos headed just wide as Athletic held on in a tense finale.

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