Monday, January 30, 2023

Real Madrid 1-1 Valencia (aet, 4-3 pens): Unconvincing Los Blancos require penalties to reach Superc

SoccerNews in La Liga 11 Jan 2023


Real Madrid edged into the Supercopa de Espana final with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Valencia following an unconvincing 1-1 draw after extra time on Wednesday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side were not at their best in Riyadh, but Eray Comert – who conceded the penalty for Benzema’s first-half opener – and Jose Gaya both faltered from 12 yards.

Samuel Lino’s 46th-minute strike had earlier pulled Valencia level before Giorgi Mamardashvili made a trio of fine extra-time saves, but Comert blasted over and Thibaut Courtois denied Gaya to send Madrid through.

Los Blancos will aim for their third Supercopa in the last four seasons on Sunday when they face the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between LaLiga leaders Barcelona and Real Betis.

Rodrygo blazed just wide from a presentable 10th-minute opportunity before Benzema and Federico Valverde both arrowed narrowly off target in a one-sided opening.

A needless Comert lunge inside the area from behind on Benzema offered Madrid the breakthrough, with the striker subsequently converting the spot-kick into the bottom-right corner.

Lino punished Lucas Vazquez’s slack marking immediately after the interval as he turned home Toni Lato’s right-wing cross with a right-footed finish past Courtois.

Benzema headed just over from Valverde’s pinpoint centre before Mamardashvili expertly denied a gilt-edged Vinicius Junior chance, sending the game to extra time.

Mamardashvili produced two impressive stops to thwart Vinicius and Toni Kroos before Courtois crucially kept Fran Perez at bay, ensuring penalties were required.

Luka Modric converted to put Madrid in control after Comert whipped over when looking for the top-left corner, and Courtois then halted saved from Gaya – Valencia’s fifth taker – to keep Los Blancos on course in the Supercopa.

What does it mean? Warning signs for Madrid despite progression

Madrid have enjoyed Supercopa success in three of the previous five seasons, with 12 crowns overall, therefore it will not come as a surprise to see them progress – albeit in unconvincing fashion.

Los Blancos were blunted by Gennaro Gattuso’s energetic side for large parts, but that will prove little consolation for Valencia, who have played the most semi-finals in the competition without reaching the final (two), after also falling to Madrid in 2020.

Ancelotti will still be left with a lot to desire, though they are potentially just 90 minutes from their first silverware of the season.

Benzema hits another record

Benzema is the second player to score in five consecutive games in Supercopa history (five goals) after Barca’s Lionel Messi between 2010 and 2012 (eight goals in five successive games).

The 35-year-old striker was a constant nuisance for Comert and Cenk Ozkacar, delivering in yet another knockout clash for Madrid.

Clumsy Comert

Valencia had weathered the early Madrid storm before Comert’s brainless lunge from behind on Benzema, with the defender somewhat fortunate to not be dismissed for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

The Switzerland centre-back endured a frustrating outing, winning just one of his six duels before blasting his penalty over the crossbar.

What’s next?

Madrid will aim for more Supercopa glory in four days’ time in Riyadh, while Valencia return to Spain.


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