Real Madrid enter Spanish Super Cup semifinal

La Liga

At the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, in a nail-biting Spanish Super Cup semifinal, Real Madrid defeated Valencia 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes. The final will feature either Barcelona or Real Betis.

Real Madrid advanced to the final following an outstanding match. Karim Benzema‘s penalty kick conversion soon before halftime gave Ancelotti’s team the lead.

Valencia was always a threat in attack, though, and Samuel Lino’s volley goal 25 seconds into the second half restored parity. Prior to Madrid taking control in the second half of the session, Valencia had the superior team play.

The game went to penalties, though, thanks to some outstanding saves from the goalkeeper Mamardashvili. Comert and Gaya missed for Valencia while Benzema, Modric, Kroos, and Asensio all scored goals.

Despite a challenging start to 2023, the defending Super Cup champions weren’t at their best once more. However, Courtois shone, making crucial saves and then firmly turning away Jose Gaya in the shootout.

In the final on Sunday, Madrid will take on either Barcelona or Real Betis, both of which play on Thursday.

Spanish Cup runners-up Real Madrid, the La Liga champions, had opportunities to win the game within the first 90 minutes, but Courtois had to stop Fran Perez with an incredible reaction save to force extra time.

The current “final four” format for the Spanish Super Cup was introduced in Saudi Arabia in 2020, and despite criticism of the hosts’ human rights record, the tournament will stay there at least through 2029. With David Alaba and Aurelien Tchouameni out with recent injuries, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti started with Nacho at left back and added Fede Valverde to the midfield trio.

Benzema had a beautiful dribble to start Los Blancos off, but Cenk Ozkacar did superbly to cut him off and stop the French striker from shooting. Courtois stopped Edinson Cavani’s header and then stopped Toni Lato, who sprinted in from the right and unsuccessfully sought for a penalty after slipping.

Eder Militao’s excellent pass over the top that allowed Benzema to advance gave Madrid the lead just before halftime. Eray Comert accidentally knocked the forward to the ground in the area, and he tucked away the ensuing penalty to fool Valencia goalie Giorgi Mamardashvili.

Cavani was offside as Courtois made an incredible save to keep his team ahead before the break.

Samuel Lino scored shortly after the restart, eluding Lucas Vazquez to complete Lato’s cross, serving as a premonition of things to come.

Vazquez appears to have a knee issue, while Militao was taken off the field after taking a shot to the head, adding to Madrid’s injury woes. Vinicius Junior, who had been reserved, had a chance to give Madrid the victory in the final seconds, but Mamardashvili stopped him with his legs.

In extra time, as Madrid tightened the screws, the Valencia goalie again stopped the Brazilian and produced a great save to save a savage Toni Kroos shot.

As time ran out, it was Courtois’ turn to pull off a miraculous save. He displayed incredible quickness to deflect Perez’s attempt at the near-post to safety.

In the shootout, Cavani and Benzema both scored from the penalty spot, but Comert ended a bad night for him by missing the target, and Luka Modric gave Madrid the lead. Courtois read Gaya’s intentions and saved his effort down the centre, allowing Los Blancos to score on all four of their penalty kicks and eliminating the need for a fifth.

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