Federico Valverde scored in extra time as Real Madrid advanced to the Supercopa de Espana final with a 3-2 victory over Barcelona.
Vinicius Junior gave Madrid a deserved lead shortly after the midway point of the first half in Riyadh, yet Luuk de Jong ensured the sides went in at the break level with a fortuitous equaliser.
Karim Benzema restored Los Blancos’ advantage in the 72nd minute, only for Ansu Fati to draw Xavi’s men level once again with seven minutes left of normal time.
Valverde clipped home eight minutes into extra time, however, to set up a final clash on Sunday against either Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao, who do battle in the second semi-final on Thursday.
15 – Vinícius Júnior has scored 15 goals in 27 games for @realmadriden this season in all competitions, as many as in his first three seasons combined with the club (15 in 118 appearances). Stellar pic.twitter.com/nAZRWVS694
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 12, 2022
Madrid’s bright start was rewarded in the 25th minute when Vinicius raced beyond Ronald Araujo and fired past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after Benzema had dispossessed Sergio Busquets on the halfway line.
Barca pulled level four minutes before the interval, Eder Militao’s attempted clearance inside the six-yard area smashing against De Jong and spinning in off the inside of Thibaut Courtois’ right-hand post.
Moments after crashing an effort against the upright, Benzema slotted home from close range after Vinicius’ cross had been diverted into his path by Ter Stegen.
Substitute Fati, who was making his first appearance since November 6, sent the game to extra time, though, heading Jordi Alba’s cross past Courtois from six yards.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men sealed their spot in the final in the first half of extra time when Valverde slid home after a counter-attacking move that saw Barca desperately outnumbered.
What does it mean? Barca put up a good fight
You would have been hard pressed to tell that leaders Madrid have a whopping 17-point lead over their sixth-placed rivals in LaLiga, given the way Barca conducted themselves.
The Catalan side had 20 shots to their opponents’ 14 and enjoyed 53.2 per cent of the possession in a display that suggested they are moving in the right direction under Xavi.
Benzema’s sensational season continued with a goal and an assist for Vinicius’ opener. It was the first time he has both scored and assisted in the same game against Barca in his Madrid career (38 appearances), becoming the first Madrid player to do so since Sergio Ramos in May 2009.
Torres’ slow start
Ferran Torres did not enjoy the most sparkling of debuts following his switch from Manchester City. The Spain international was brought off at the interval after a first half that heralded just a single shot and a mere six successful passes.
After Sunday’s final, Madrid are due to be in Copa del Rey action with Elche on Wednesday. Barca are set to face Athletic in the Copa the same, though it would seem both games could be pushed back due to three of the teams involved taking part in the Supercopa.
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