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Spanish Super Cup: Real Madrid beat ‘spirited’ Barcelona

Xavi was proud of his team and thought his side deserved to win
Karim Benzema.

Reuters   |   Published 14.01.22, 02:59 AM

Federico Valverde finished off a stunning move in extra time to give Real Madrid a 3-2 victory over arch-rivals Barcelona in an exhilarating Spanish Super Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Real advanced to Sunday’s final in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. They await either Athletic Bilbao or Atletico Madrid.

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Vinicius Jr opened the scoring for Real from a counter-attack early in the first half, but Luuk De Jong equalised shortly before half-time following a mistake by Real defender Eder Militao.

Karim Benzema put Real back in front 25 minutes into the second half, striking home on the rebound from inside the area, but a header by substitute Ansu Fati, who was making his first appearance since November, took the game into extra time.

Real claimed the winner from another counter-attack, with Rodrygo firing a low cross to the edge of the area. Vinicius dummied to shoot, which eliminated the entire Barca defence and left Valverde all alone to tap the ball into an empty net.

Real Madrid were huge favourites entering the match, but struggling Barcelona gave the La Liga leaders a tough game.

The King Fahd Stadium was supposed to be at 50 per cent capacity owing to Covid-19 concerns, but it looked almost full of excited fans thrilled to witness the first ‘Clasico’ played outside of Spain.

“We were very effective in the counter-attack and scored three spectacular goals,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference.

Real Madrid sat back patiently and tried to set up counter-attacks for Vinicius and Benzema, but they allowed Barca to get too close to their area.

Xavi Hernandez’s much-improved team dominated the second half and extra time, and Ousmane Dembele was a constant threat down the left for a Real defence missing David Alaba who was injured in the warm-up.

Xavi was proud of his team and thought his side deserved to win.

Real beat Barca for the seventh time in eight Super Cup clashes.

“We had it in our hands,” Xavi told a news conference. “We dominated Real for most of the game but we still lack experience, patience and effectiveness. We are close. We cornered Real. It is a pity.”

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

Ancelotti thought the game was well balanced.

“I think it was a match between two great teams,” Ancelotti said. “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.”



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