Real Madrid needed extra time to book their place in the Supercopa de Espana final on Wednesday evening, edging Barcelona 3-2 after extra time in an action-filled meeting in Saudi Arabia.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side led twice on the night only to be pegged back by their Clasico rivals before Fede Valverde gave them a third advantage that proved to be a bridge too far for the Blaugrana. Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema’s earlier goals had been cancelled out by Luuk de Jong and Ansu Fati respectively.

Real Madrid were much the better side early on and Xavi Hernandez would have been pleased to see Los Blancos send a couple of chances off target. Benzema had the game’s first chance but curled an attempt over the crossbar, and Marco Asensio then did the same shortly after.

Vinicius and Benzema combined on a couple of occasions to give the Blaugrana’s backline something to think about, with Asensio playing a supporting role.

It was that very combination that saw Los Blancos get the opener. Sergio Busquets was caught in possession and Benzema set the Brazilian through on the left, taking advantage of Dani Alves’ high starting position and Ronald Araujo perhaps leaving space to exploit. Vinicius carried the ball into the box and duly fired beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his near post.

The goal woke Barcelona up, and they had chances to level through Luuk de Jong. The Dutchman had two chances on the end of crosses, one from Ousmane Dembele and another from Jordi Alba. Dembele himself came close soon after.

Then De Jong had more than a touch of good fortune to draw level. The forward found himself in the way of an attempted clearance from Eder Militao, with the ball ricocheting off him and past Thibaut Courtois.

The Catalans started the second half as they ended the first, and Pedri started to take control of the game after his half-time introduction, having come on for Frenkie de Jong. The youngster picked out Dembele to send a shot over the bar, before the Canary Islander himself had an effort go narrowly wide. De Jong completed a hat-trick of Barcelona misses seconds later, turning over from close range.

Things grew somewhat cagier before Real Madrid regained control. The same combination that led to the opening goal almost brought another, though this time Vinicius was the provider for Benzema before the Frenchman found a yard of space to send a shot off the post.

He wouldn’t have to wait long to find himself on the scoresheet though, netting just three minutes later. The No.9 saw his initial shot stopped by Ter Stegen after a Ferland Mendy centre, then the German goalkeeper palmed Vinicius’ follow-up back into play and Benzema pounced to turn it home.

If Vinicius has established himself as Real Madrid’s next superstar, then Ansu Fati is that for Barcelona and the teenager scored the Blaugrana’s second equaliser in the 83rd minute. Having come off the bench about 15 minutes earlier, his impact was clear as he escaped Eder Militao’s marking to finish off Alba’s cross and force extra time.

No stranger to Supercopa heroics, Fede Valverde appeared early in the supplementary 30 minutes to restore Real Madrid’s advantage, again on the counterattack. Casemiro set Los Blancos off by releasing fellow Brazilian Rodrygo. He then brought a third Brazilian into the move by cutting back to Vinicius, though he left the ball for Valverde to take, control, and finish beyond Ter Stegen.

But Barcelona weren’t ready to accept defeat, and Courtois had to deliver more excellence to keep them at bay. The Belgian made a double save to deny both Busquets and Dembele. Abde Ezzalzouli was the next to come close but fire off target.

Despite their attempts at piling pressure on Ancelotti’s Los Blancos late on, Xavi’s side were unable to level the scores for the third time.

Real Madrid will now face either Atletico Madrid or Athletic Club in the final on Sunday.


Courtesy: MARCA

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