Athletic stun Madrid, face Barça in Super Cup final
MALAGA, Jan 15: Athletic Bilbao knocked out defending champion Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup with a 2-1 win, setting up a final against Barcelona.
Raúl García scored two first-half goals to put Athletic in Sunday’s final in Seville against the Catalan club, which beat Real Sociedad in a penalty shootout in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Athletic is looking to win its third Spanish Super Cup title, and first since beating Barcelona in the 2015 final. The Basque Country club also won the competition in 1984.
Real Madrid was going for its 12th Spanish Super Cup trophy. This year’s Super Cup was moved to southern Spain after the coronavirus pandemic stopped it from being held in Saudi Arabia for a second straight season.
The tournament’s revamped Final Four format includes the top-two finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.
García opened the scoring for Athletic in the 18th minute with a shot past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in a one-on-one situation inside the area.
He added to the lead by converting a penalty kick in the 38th after a foul by Lucas Vázquez.
Madrid reduced the deficit in the 73rd minute when Karim Benzema scored his first goal in four matches.
The French striker appeared to have scored an equalizer in the 82nd but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Defender Sergio Ramos missed another chance with a header by the post in the 88th.
A few minutes later Madrid wanted a penalty after Ramos appeared to be grabbed inside the area, but video review determined there was no foul.
Athletic reached the final boosted by the arrival of coach Marcelino García Toral, who was hired less than two weeks ago to try to halt the team’s struggles.
It was only his second match in charge of the club, coming after a 3-2 home loss to Barcelona in the Spanish league last week. (AP)