Athletic finished runners-up in the Spanish Super Cup after losing 0-2 on a night of contentious penalty calls and a late spot-kick missed by Raúl García
Athletic Club lost 0-2 against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final in Riyadh. Goals from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, the latter from the spot after a VAR check, left Los Rojiblancos fighting an uphill battle.
Athletic tried to close the distance but were unable to convert their determination into goals. Not even from the penalty spot. In the 88th minute, Thibaut Courtois saved a Raúl García penalty with his foot after a Eder Militao handball in the box. It was a pity, because there would have been time to go for the equaliser.
Athletic, who had the same line-up as in the semi-final, tried to go toe-to-toe with Real Madrid from the start. The Lions felt they had a penalty shout early on when David Alaba handballed a cross into the box. The match official, Soto Grado, did not check with VAR, as he did with the two other major calls later in the tie, and ordered play to continue.
Real Madrid’s goal came in the 37th minute, Rodrygo passing back to Modric for the Croatian to send an unstoppable missile past Unai Simon. At the other end, Los Leones went close to equalising just before half-time when Oihan Sancet narrowly missed with a curling effort inside the box.
Marcelino introduced Nico Williams at half-time and made a triple substitution in the 58th minute as he tried to inject some fresh energy into the side. However, the team were dealt a blow when Benzema double Madrid’s lead from the spot. Los Blancos awarded a penalty after the referee went to the pitchside VAR and decided Yeray had handballed in the box.
Athletic’s final hope was extinguished in the dying minutes, with Raúl García having a penalty saved by Courtois. Athletic went down with their heads held high and the experience will come in handy for the emerging young Lions. To fall in a final you have to get there in the first place.
Athletic’s victory over Atlético to reach the final will go into the history books, but now it is time to move on and set our sights on Thursday’s Copa clash against FC Barcelona.