Mirandes miracle gives relief from El Clasico controversy
Mirandes’ Pablo Infante (C) celebrates after knocking La Liga side Espanyol off the King’s Cup at Anduva stadium in Miranda de Ebro. The team from the third-tier Spanish football division beat the odds to advance to the semifinal in the cup. REUTERS photoMirandes’ Pablo Infante (C) celebrates after knocking La Liga side Espanyol off the King’s Cup at Anduva stadium in Miranda de Ebro. The team from the third-tier Spanish football division beat the odds to advance to the semifinal in the cup.
Tiny third-tier club Mirandes failed to knock Real Madrid and Barcelona off the front pages but its incredible King’s Cup win against Espanyol on Jan. 24 provided a welcome distraction after a week of controversy swirling around the big two.
The humble club based in Miranda de Ebro in northern Spain pulled off a huge upset when it scored in added time in the quarterfinal second leg to snatch a 2-1 comeback win that gave the team a berth in the last four. The result prompted a pitch invasion by ecstatic fans at the club’s 6,000-capacity stadium and set up a semifinal against Athletic Bilbao or Real Mallorca.
Mirandes, whose annual budget is around 1.2 million euros, had disposed of La Liga clubs Villarreal and Racing Santander in earlier rounds and it was only the second time a team from the third level of Spanish football has reached the last four of the King’s Cup.
“Miranda de Ebro has found a place in the hearts of all Spaniards,” columnist Tomas Roncero wrote in sports daily As yesterday.
“Superheroes!” read the headline in As’s rival Marca. “Mirandes have delighted Spain with their football, their passion, their effort, their confidence, their humility and their joy,” the paper added.
The scenes at the Anduva stadium marked a contrast with the bickering that has further soured relations between Real and Barça since the Catalans won last week’s quarterfinal first leg at the Bernabeu 2-1.
The stamp by Real defender Pepe on the hand of Barça’s World Player of the Year Lionel Messi was the latest in a series of ugly incidents in games between the archrivals.