Athletic Bilbao steal show to face Real Madrid in final

Athletic Bilbao players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid — AFP
Athletic Bilbao players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid — AFP 

Real Madrid took on Barcelona to seal their spot in the Spanish Super Cup final, with the current title holders Athletic Bilbao being the other finalist.

The Los Blancos faced their arch-rival, Barcelona, on January 12, staged in King Fahd International Stadium of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

This was the first El Clasico of 2022 where Real Madrid have managed to win five consecutive El-Clasicos, with the last two being won away from home under Carlo Ancelotti. 

Real put up quite a show in the first half, breaking the deadlock early in the 25th minute with Vinicius Junior’s powerful shot that went past Ter Stegen in the back of the net. 

However, the Blaugrana were able to equalise the score before going into half-time, a goal scored by Luuk De Jong who has actually managed to start in straight three matches and scoring in each. 

Barcelona came back stronger in the second half, managing to keep the ball at their feet and taking shots on target, but it couldn’t prevent Madrid from executing a perfect counterattack that led Benzema to score and take the lead again.

Ansu Fati, who has managed to come back after an injury, took a header from Jordi Alba’s cross and equalised the scoreline in the 83rd minute.

The match went into extra time, with both sides looking anxious to score and seal the victory. Before the end of the extra time’s first half, Real executed a counterattack resulting from Barcelona’s corner.

Casemiro penetrated through Barcelona’s territory before passing it to his compatriot Rodrygo who low crossed it in the box, and the keeper was dodged as Vinicius beautifully left the ball for Valverde who banged it in the corner of the net and in a blink of an eye — next, the Madridistas were celebrating their goal. 

The match ended in a 2-3 win for Real Madrid. Both coaches presented their views on the game, with Ancelotti admitting it was a fair and equal game. Despite the defeat, the Barcelona management is satisfied with the team’s performance against the league leaders considering the Blaugrana’s struggle in this season. 

President of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, encouraged and appreciated the team’s efforts in the dressing room after the match.

The second semi-final was played between the current title holder’s Atheltic Bilbao, and Atletico Madrid. 

The game remained even till the first half, with Atletico taking the lead in the 62nd minute of the game by an own goal coming from Bilbao’s goalkeeper, Unai Simon.

However, Bilbao’s attacking opportunities provided them with the necessary set pieces that led them to win the match. The score was equalled by Athletic Bilbao’s Yeray Alvarez who headed the ball in the net from a corner taken by Iker Muniain in the 77th minute and it wasn’t too long before Bilbao took the lead in the 81st minute, this time Nico Williams beating Jan Oblak to give his team the lead from a corner taken again by Muniain.

Athletic Bilbao clinched the last Spanish Super Cup title in the final against Barcelona in extra time with Inaki Williams scoring the late winning goal. 

Now Bilbao is looking forward to defeating Real Madrid in the final that will kick off on January 16 in the King Fahd International Stadium, to bring back the trophy to San Mames.

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