Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Copa del Rey
coverage continues from Barcelona as Espanyol welcome Athletic Bilbao
for the second leg of their semi-final. Having just watched Barcelona book their place, it is now up to one of these two teams to make their mark. As it stands, the tie is delicately poised following a 1-1 draw at San Mames in the first leg last month.
In terms of progression to this stage, Bilbao have beaten Alcoyano, Celta Vigo and Malaga to book their spot in the final four, while Espanyol have overcome Deportivo Alaves, Valencia and Sevilla. Bilbao have a rich history in this competition – winning the trophy on 24 occasions. Espanyol, meanwhile, have won the competition on four occasions – the last of which was back in 1984.
There are just two places and two points separating these two sides in the La Liga table. Friday's 1-0 win at home to Cordoba moved Espanyol into eighth, while Bilbao beat Eibar 1-0 on Sunday to move into 10th. Over the last four matches, both sides have an identical record – winning two, drawing once and losing once. Right, let me bring you the all-important team news from Barcelona.
ESPANYOL: Lopez; Arbilla, Alvaro, Moreno, Fuentes; Canas, Sanchez, Alvarez, Lucas; Garcia, Stuani
BILBAO: Herrerin; Iraola, Gurpegi, Etxeita, Balenziaga; De Marcos, San Jose, Rico, Muniain; Aduriz, Williams
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. It must be said that there is a stunning atmosphere inside the stadium as the home side get the action underway.
This stadium is absolutely rocking. I think that might have something to do with the fact that Barcelona are waiting in the final. Can Espanyol make it a Catalan derby? As expected, it has been a highly-charged opening couple of minutes, with both sets of players flying all over the pitch.
Muniain has the chance to break through for Bilbao, but the Spaniard picks the wrong option and Espanyol regain possession. You just get a feeling that the first goal could be crucial tonight.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the opening five minutes, while the referee has been busy due to a number of late challenges. The Spanish official must be sensitive to the occasion.
Balenziaga is down the right for Bilbao, but his low cross is cleared at the near post. It has been the away side on the front foot in the opening seven minutes, with Espanyol struggling to make their mark. The referee, meanwhile, continues to allow a number of strong challenges to pass.
BOOKING! De Marcos (Bilbao) is booked for a late challenge on Alvarez.
BOOKING! Canas (Espanyol) is booked for a poor challenge on Muniain.
The resulting free kick is delivered by San Jose, but Moreno is on hand to clear the danger. Bilbao have a half-chance moments later through Iraola, but he clips one just wide of the far post.
Bilbao have been the more threatening side in the opening 12 minutes there is no question about that. Espanyol have thus far struggled to find the likes of Garcia and Stuani in the final third.
GOAL! Espanyol 0-1 Bilbao (Aduriz)
Stunning goal and Bilbao deserve it. It is Aduriz who opens the scoring, with the Spaniard angling one into the bottom corner from outside the box. Super, super finish from a wonderful player.
Espanyol just have not started in this match there is no question about that. Bilbao have been quicker in the final third and deserve their lead. As it stands, they will advance into the final to meet Barca.
Aduriz remains a real threat for Bilbao as he brings one out of the air, but Arbilla is across to make a fine challenge. Still nothing much from Espanyol in the final third, which is frustrating the crowd.
At the moment, the team in red and white look like the home side as they continue to boss possession in the final third. Iraola again threatens down the right, but his cross is blocked at the near post. There is still plenty of time for Espanyol, but they have really struggled in the opening 20 minutes.
Aside from the goal, there has not really been any real chances in this match, with Iraola perhaps coming closest aside from Aduriz's excellent finish. The likes of Garcia and Stuani have not been in the game for the home side. Just a reminder that tonight's winner will face Barca in the final.
Possession football from Espanyol in the last couple of minutes, but they are not really threatening, which is causing frustration in the stands. Muniain leads a quick break for Bilbao before Aduriz takes over, but the striker loses his footing inside the box after initially rounding Pau Lopez.
Half-chance for Espanyol as a dangerous cross tests San Jose, but the Bilbao defender just manages to turn behind for a corner. The pressure continues from the resulting set piece, but Bilbao manage to clear their lines once more. The opening 27 minutes of this second leg have just flown past.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the away side as Aduriz collects a loose ball inside the box before driving a cross into Williams, but Arbilla is across to make a vital clearance.
CHANCE! Espanyol's best chance of the match falls to Stuani, but the Uruguay international is denied by a super save from Iago, who got down excellently. In the resulting scrap, the home side call for a penalty, but the referee is not interested. Much, much better from the hosts now.
Williams has been very lively for Bilbao thus far and the striker looks to be through on goal, but the offside flag is raised and Espanyol survive. This match is incredibly open at the moment.
Just a reminder that we will have extra-time this evening if the score finishes 1-1 after 90 minutes. Bilbao are looking strong for another goal at the moment, however, as they continue to threaten.
Little under 10 minutes of the first period remaining and Bilbao still lead 1-0 on the night. Williams again threatens to meet a through pass, but Pau Lopez is out to clear at the vital moment.
I really fancied Espanyol this evening, but Bilbao have been very, very good in this first period there is no question about that. The referee is also having a busy night due to the number of late tackles.
Good pressure from the home side in the last few minutes, but not much is happening in the final third as a flicked header from Stuani moves wide of the post. The home supporters are remaining with their team, however, which is vitally important at this stage of the match. Still 1-0 Bilbao.
GOAL! Espanyol 0-2 Bilbao (Etxeita)
Bilbao score their second of the evening as Etxeita pops up inside the Espanyol box to thump a header into the bottom corner. Now then, Bilbao have two away goals and lead the tie 3-1 in Barcelona.
In truth, Bilbao deserve it. They have been very, very good in this first 44 minutes.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Espanyol to claw one goal back as Garcia delivers a super cross into Stuani, who makes contact, but his effort just bounces over the crossbar.
BOOKING! Stuani (Espanyol) is booked for a poor challenge on Balenziaga.
HALF-TIME: Espanyol 0-2 Bilbao
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Bilbao leading 2-0 on the night courtesy of goals from Aduriz ands Etxeita. There is no question that Bilbao have been the better team, with Espanyol never really getting started. It is a mountain to claim for the home side now.
BENCH WATCH! Espanyol boss Sergio might already be considering changes and he has options on the bench in the shape of Salva Sevilla, Abraham and Caicedo. Bilbao, meanwhile, have the likes of Benat, Ibai and Susaeta in reserve. It is a big ask for the hosts to turn this one around.
STATS! Espanyol just shaded the possession with 53%, but they have only had two attempts, just one of which has been on target. Bilbao, meanwhile, have scored with their only two attempts on target. There have also been four yellow cards during a half that has been littered with late challenges.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. Just a reminder that Espanyol need three goals without reply to turn this one around. Bilbao resume the action here.
No changes from either side at the break, which is a little bit of a surprise. I suspect that we will see alterations if the score remains 2-0 for the next 15 or 20 minutes. Game on in Barcelona!
CHANCE! Bilbao look to kill off this tie once and for all as Aduriz breaks into the Espanyol box, but his low effort was always moving wide of the post. A third for Bilbao and it's goodnight.
SUB! Espanyol make their first change as Caicedo replaces Alvarez.
Excellent work from Williams as the Bilbao forward breaks away from the Espanyol defence before attempting to flash one into the bottom corner, but his effort was always moving wide of the post.
Bilbao remain in control of proceedings as De Marcos slides a pass down the right, but Moreno is across to clear the danger. Just a reminder that Espanyol need three goals without reply if they are to turn this one around. Those two away goals for Bilbao have placed them in such a strong position.
CHANCE! Much better from the home side as Garcia flashes a dangerous cross towards Caicedo, but Gurpegi is on hand to make a fine clearance. The goal has to come sooner rather than later.
Just a reminder that Barcelona are waiting for one of these two teams in the final. The fairytale would have been Espanyol against Barcelona, but Bilbao, quite rightly, are not interested in that. Little over 30 minutes of this second leg remaining and the visitors remain firm in defensive areas.
POST! Another wonderful chance for the home side as Caicedo strikes one from just inside the box, but his effort hits the post before dropping into the arms of Iago. So unlucky.
Caicedo has been very, very bright for the home side since entering. It is a surprise that he did not start the match it must be said. Still no goals in the second period, which is great news for Bilbao, but not so good for the home side. At the moment, Bilbao are fully in control of this second leg.
Another half-chance for the home side as Stuani meets a cross from the left, but his header was always moving high of the crossbar. Little over 25 minutes remaining in Barcelona.
There is a bit of concern for Bilbao goalkeeper Iago at the moment as the Spaniard hits the deck and stays there. It does not look great and a change will seemingly have to be made for the visitors.
SUB! Bilbao do indeed make the change as Iraizoz replaces Iago.
BOOKING! Arbilla (Espanyol) is booked for a late challenge on Muniain.
Another half-chance for the home side as Sanchez strikes one from just outside the box, but Iraizoz is across to make a very smart save. One goal for the hosts would give them a glimmer of hope.
Sensational defending from Gurpegi as the Bilbao centre-back is across to make a fine challenge on Garcia when the Espanyol skipper had threatened to manoeuvre clear inside the box.
SUB! Espanyol make their second change as Sevilla replaces Vasquez.
Espanyol have been a touch better in the second period, but Bilbao are still pretty comfortable in defensive areas it must be said. Time is really running out as we approach the final 15 minutes.
It is looking like it will be a Barcelona, Bilbao final this season. It will take some getting over for Espanyol and their supporters that is for certain. I do not want to write them off at this stage, but they need three goals in the final 15 minutes and in truth, Bilbao are just as threatening at the moment.
The home side continue to work the ball into wide areas, but that is isolating Stuani and Caicedo, who have not had too much to feed on, especially the former. Bilbao ease some of the pressure with a period of possession in the final third, which is all they need as the clock continues to tick on.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Bilbao to score a third as Williams takes possession away from Alvaro before breaking into the box. A simple pass into Muniain would have led to a third, but Williams went for goal and missed. Terrible decision from the striker there it must be said.
Some of the home supporters are already making their way towards the exits, which is a real shame. Their team just has not been good enough this evening, with Bilbao deserving their 2-0 lead.
Bilbao force another corner and as expected, they are not in a hurry to take it. Still no goal in the second period for Espanyol and as it stands, they need three without reply. Very unlikely.
Muniain shows sensational feet in a wide area before delivering towards the head of Aduriz, but the referee blows for a foul on Pau Lopez. Bilbao are preparing to make their second change here.
SUB! Bilbao do indeed make the change as Benat replaces Muniain.
Not too much to report in terms of action in the last couple of minutes, with the atmosphere dropping and Bilbao in control of the possession. They are heading for the Copa final.
BOOKING! Alvaro (Espanyol) is booked for a poor challenge on Aduriz.
CHANCE! Aduriz has the chance to score his second of the night after meeting a corner from De Marcos, but Pau Lopez makes a smart save. Gurpegi is quickly on the scene, but the centre-back cannot turn home as Bilbao finish on the front foot, with their supporters in fine voice.
Another half-chance for Bilbao as Etxeita meets yet another corner, but his header just drops wide of the post. Those Espanyol fans that have stuck around have suddenly raised their voices.
SUB! Bilbao make their third change as Laporte replaces Williams.
We are into the second of four added minutes in Barcelona and it must be said that the Espanyol supporters are in wonderful voice. Many have left, but many have also stuck around.
Quite a scrappy end to the match, with both sides losing possession in and around the centre circle. It has been a desperately disappointing night for Espanyol there is no getting away from that.
FULL-TIME: Espanyol 0-2 Bilbao (Bilbao win 3-1 on aggregate)
So there we have it. The referee blows up, with Bilbao winning 2-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate. It will be Bilbao against Barcelona in the 2015 Copa del Rey final! That is just about it from me - thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!