January 17, (THEWILL) – Madrid won the Spanish Super Cup played at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Athletic Club Bilbao on Sunday.
Los Blancos just needed to climb out of third gear to defeat the Lions, thanks to goals from veteran Luka Modric and in-form forward Karim Benzema.
Carlo Ancelotti will be delighted with the performance of two of his ‘golden oldies’, as 34-year-old Benzema and 36-year-old Modric came up with the goods to bring the trophy back to the Spanish capital in a game when he was seeking to win his first trophy in his second term as Madrid manager.
The first goal was a classic Real fare: a drive and cunning attack down the right flank, with Modric feeding Rodrygo, who slipped it back into the path of the Croatian to bend home inside the near post.
Before halftime, the lead could have been extended if Madrid were more clinical. Casemiro had two chances to test Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon, the first a near-post drive and the second a header from the resultant corner, but the Spain number one was equal to both.
Iker Muniain and Inaki Williams tried everything they could to get Marcelino’s team back into the game, but they simply could not match the quality on display from their opponents, and the game was decided only seven minutes into the second half, when Yeray was unfortunate enough to be accused of handballing a scuffed Benzema effort, and VAR awarded a questionable penalty.
Benzema got back on his feet and finished off from the penalty spot. but Simon got a piece of it, which was not enough to see the ball out, much to the dismay of Simon.
After a flurry of substitutions from Bilbao’s manager on the hour, the Basque side’s press and on-the-ball play improved, and Raul Garcia was the culprit, snatching at two great chances to get the Basque side back into the game as Real’s defence was at sixes and sevens.
A penalty was granted Bilbao after Eder Militao’s handball was assessed to have prevented the ball from crossing the line following a Raul Garcia header from a Yuri Berchiche cross, and the Brazilian defender was controversially sent off for an intentional handball.
But Garcia was stopped by Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian’s trailing leg blocking a weak penalty down the centre to round out Bilbao’s endeavours to get back into the game.
Real controlled the tempo and patterns of play with their veteran engine room, and they still had a threat in Vinicius Junior, who was uncharacteristically ineffective, and Rodrygo’s deadly pace down the flanks.