Atletico Madrid looked all but out of their UEFA Super Cup clash with rivals Real Madridon Wednesday evening as Sergio Ramos converted his mid-way through the second-half.
In the race for silverware and glory, Los RojiBlancos have always been a few furlongs behind their illustrious neighbours. Despite winning the Europa League last season, Diego Simeone’s troops have had to watch as Real have been first on the podium in the Champions League, themselves being twice beaten finalists to their great rivals in recent years.
However, their 4-2 victory in the UEFA Super Cup in Estonia on Wednesday evening indicates that the competitive edge in the Spanish capital is stronger than ever, even without their talented Argentinian jockey on the touchline.
Costa cannons Atleti ahead within the opening minute
Like a purebred race horse, Atlético raced out of the traps. Costa did excellently to control Diego Godin’s sweeping pass and powered beyond Ramos. Facing up to Raphaël Varane, the former Chelsea striker eyed Keylor Navas and smashed the ball beyond the Costa Rican into the far corner. Simeone celebrated in the stands due to his touchline ban.
Real Madrid, playing competitively without the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, looked lethargic and struggled to create any real chances of note until mid-way through the first-half. His heir apparent, Marco Asensio, did brilliantly to flick Marcelo’s low cross towards goal but was thwarted by Jan Oblak.
Marcelo then set his sights from distance after cutting in on his right foot but the ball harmlessly whistled over the bar.
Bale and Benzema combine for equaliser
Despite their relative difficulty of finding space through the Atléti defence, Los Blancos powered back into contention through Benzema. Gareth Bale raced down the right side and picked out the Frenchman with an inch-perfect cross that was duly nodded into the bottom corner.
The momentum appeared to swing after Real found the net. Asensio could have put Julen Lopetegui’s men ahead but his low finish bobbled just inches wide of the post.
Real gallop from behind
Los Blancos were given a significant boost-mid way through the second-half as the referee awarded a penalty. Defender Juanfran handled the ball from a corner and the spot-kick was signalled. Possibly one of the most unlikely people, Sergio Ramos, stepped up but made no mistake as he buried the ball into the bottom corner.
Benzema then had the opportunity to stretch the lead but his low effort was straight at Oblak.
Costa converts from close range to level
With Atleti causing their own downfall with Real’s strike, Lopetegui’s men had to shoulder even more blame as Costa notched his second. Juanfran did excellently to find substitute Correa with a centre. The Argentine dribbled to the byline, weaving in and out of some lazy challenges, and crossed to the Spanish striker who thumped the ball into the roof of the net from close range. It now looked like the game would be a photo finish in Tallinn.
Marcelo almost ended the game in the most spectacular way with an acrobatic effort from Bale’s cross but it unfortunately did not come off for the Brazilian. As a result, the game headed for extra-time.
Stunning Ñíguez volley claims extra-time lead
Atletico did not allow their heads to drop though and edged ahead yet again mid-way through the extended period, and it was an unbelievable strike that made sure of that. Thomas Partey did brilliantly to force Real into conceding position in their own penalty area and seized the ball. He bustled his way towards the by-line and cut back towards Saul. Taking it on the volley, the Spaniard thundered the ball into the very top corner from the edge of the box to leave Navas with absolutely no chance.
The victory was all-but secured as Koke polished off a lovely team move. Costa was the main instigator as he battled past Dani Carvajal. He came back onto his right foot to find Vitolo. The ex-Sevilla midfielder played a wonderful first time pass to Koke, who steered the ball into the bottom corner with a lovely finish.
The match really was like witnessing a great race between two elite, thoroughbred athletes. Going neck and neck for the entire clash, Atleti were able to power away with wonderful manoeuvres and clever game management. The strikes, particularly from Ñíguez and Koke, were sumptuous. The two finals between the two always seem to produce a spectacle. Overall, Simeone’s troops deserved their victory and now switch their attentions to Monday evening’s La Liga opener against Valencia.
Meanwhile, Lopetegui will go hunting for his first win as Real boss against Getafe on Sunday.
Real Madrid: Navas (6); Marcelo (6), Ramos (7), Varane (5), Carvajal (6); Kroos (7) (Mayoral (5), 102′), Casemiro (6) (Ceballos (5), 76′); Asensio (6) (Modrić (6), 57′), Isco (6), Bale (7); Benzema (7).
Atlético Madrid: Oblak (7); L. Hernandez (6), Godin (7), Savić (6), Juanfran (6); Lemar (6) (Partey (7), 90+1′), Ñíguez (8), Rodri (7) (Vitolo (7), 71′), Koke (8); Costa (8) (Gimenez (N/A), 109′), Griezmann (6) (Correa (7), 57′).
Goals: Costa (1′, 79′), Benzema (27′), Ramos PEN (63′), Ñíguez (98′), Koke (104′)
Referee: Szymon Marciniak
Yellow Cards: Asensio (35′), Marcelo (55′), Correa (60′), Costa (62′), Ceballos (90+1′), Modrić (101′), Vitolo (105+3′)
Red Cards: N/A
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