Real reach Super Cup final with Saudi Clasico win

Real Madrid booked their ticket to the Spanish Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia courtesy of a 3-2 extra-time win over Barcelona – their fifth straight, and 100th El Clasico victory.

Real got off to the perfect start in the 248th meeting between Spain’s two most decorated clubs when Vinicius Junior rounded off a counter and rifled in his 15th goal of the season past Marc-Andre ter Stegen (25), but Barca ended a one-sided first half level when Eder Militao’s clearance cannoned in off the unsuspecting Luuk de Jong (42).

Karim Benzema looked to have sent Madrid through to the final when the 23rd goal of his stellar season restored their lead (72), but back came Barca for a second time as Ansu Fati’s glancing header (83) forced extra-time.

Substitute Federico Valverde restored Madrid’s lead for a third time eight minutes into the first period of extra-time, and there was no way back for Barca as their spirited resistance came up short and Real claimed a landmark 100th El Clasico victory over their eternal rivals.

Player ratings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Alves (6), Araujo (6), Pique (6), Alba (6), F. De Jong (5), Busquets (7), Gavi (7), Dembele (7), L. de Jong (7), Torres (5).

Subs: Pedri (7), Depay (5), Fati (7), Nico (6), Jutgla (5), Abde (6).

Real Madrid: Courtois (6), Carvajal (6), Militao (5), Nacho (6), Mendy (6), Modric (6), Casemiro (6), Kroos (6), Asensio (6), Benzema (7), Vinicius (8).

Subs: Valverde (7), Vazquez (5), Rodrygo (5), Camavinga (5).

Man of the Match: Vinicius Junior.

Real overcome spirited Barca in Saudi Clasico

Thirty-two thousands fans were socially-distanced inside the half-capacity King Fahd Stadium in the Saudi Arabian capital as the Spanish Super Cup went back on the road again after the coronavirus pandemic transferred last season’s edition back to Spain, and the expectant crowd were treated to a vintage El Clasico.

Team news

  • Ferran Torres made his Barcelona debut and Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo returned as Barcelona made three changes from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Granada.
  • Dani Carvajal and Nacho returned as Real Madrid made two changes from Saturday’s 4-1 LaLiga victory over Valencia.

After spurning a host of chances on the counter to break the deadlock, Madrid finally made an attack count midway through the first period, and in clinical fashion, as Benzema dispossessed Sergio Busquets on halfway and released Vinicius down the left channel, where he raced clear of Ronald Araujo and powered a shot in at the near post.

Vinicius Junior put Real Madrid ahead
Vinicius Junior put Real Madrid ahead

Barca rallied, creating two heading opportunities as Luuk de Jong forced saves from Thibaut Courtois in quick succession, before the Dutchman levelled the contest in freakish circumstances when Militao’s defensive clearance cannoned off him at point-blank range.

Barca carried that momentum into the second half, creating a raft of further chances which half-time substitute Pedri and the lively Ousmane Dembele were unable to convert, and their profligacy came back to haunt them 18 minutes from time when Benzema, three minutes after striking the post, poked home Dani Carvajal’s centre.

That looked to have sealed Madrid’s passage to the final but Barca forced extra-time with eight minutes to spare when Fati was left isolated by more questionable defending in the six-yard box and glanced home Jordi Alba’s wicked cross.

Ansu fati
Ansu Fati’s late header forced extra-time in Riyadh

With the scores locked the game went to extra-time where, having fought back twice in regular time, Barca were undone for the third and final time.

With opposition players committed in attack, Real exploited acres of space on the break. Rodrygo squared a pass inside where white shirts where queuing up to convert, and Valverde duly obliged after the ball was allowed to run into his path by Vinicius’ stepover.

Fede Valverde
Fede Valverde sent Real to the final with his 108th-minute winner

Xavi: We had it in our hands

Barcelona head coach Xavi: “We had it in our hands. We dominated Madrid for most of the game, but we still lack experience, patience and effectiveness. We are close. We cornered Real. It is a pity.

“It was a day to be brave and put our complexes behind us. This Barca can compete with anyone,” Xavi said. “We will go home angry and frustrated. We could have won. We took risks and they took advantage of our mistakes.”

Xavi Hernandez and Carlo Ancelotti embrace on the touchline
Xavi Hernandez and Carlo Ancelotti embrace on the touchline

Ancelotti hails Clasico quality

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti: “I think it was a match between two great teams. They controlled the possession, but we conceded the first goal due to bad luck. There were no dominant or dominated [team]. We went back on purpose to look for the counter-attack. The three goals that we scored were spectacular.

“It was a big physical effort. But we have held out well to the end. The fresh legs that came out from the bench did well. We are tired but happy.”

What’s next?

Real Madrid will face the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and last season’s Copa del Rey runners-up Athletic Bilbao in Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – kick-off 6.30pm UK time.

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