REAL MADRID punched their ticket to the Spanish Super Cup Final after beating rivals Barcelona 3-2 in a dramatic semi-final in Saudi Arabia.
Real and Barca locked horns in another exciting El Clasico at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh that saw Carlo Ancelotti’s men prevailing.
Los Blancos opened the scoring on 25 minutes thanks to Vinicius Jr but their joy didn’t last long as the Blaugrana equalised with a freak goal by Luuk de Jong just four minutes before half-time.
The Madrid giants held the upper hand in the second half as well and regained the lead following Karim Benzema’s strike after 72 minutes.
However, Xavi’s men equalised with the returning Ansu Fati just seven minutes before full-time and sent the exciting encounter to extra-time.
But Ancelotti’s men wouldn’t be denied and sealed the win in the 98th minute thanks to Federico Valverde.
Real dominated most of the first half and missed some major chances with Benzema, Vinicius and Marco Asensio.
Their possession finally paid off when Benzema dispossessed a careless Sergio Busquets in midfield and played Vinicius through with a wonderful through ball.
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The Brazil international found himself in front of Marc Andre ter Stegen after completely outpacing Ronald Araujo and sent the ball to the back of the net with a fine finish.
The 21-year-old celebrated his goal wholeheartedly as he put together a cheeky little dance for the live crowd in Riyadh.
But Barcelona snapped back soon enough and levelled things up close to half time when De Jong diverted an attempted clearance by Eder Militao, which caught Thibaut Courtois by surprise.
But Real’s dominance continued throughout the second half and came close to a second when Vinicius released the run of Benzema, who turned away from the challenge of Araujo, but his shot rattled Ter Stegen’s post on 69 minutes.
The France international, though, was luckier second time round despite two fine saves from the Barcelona goalkeeper who denied the Real striker as well as Vinicius.
However, Benzema picked up the rebound from Vinicius’ effort and scored an important goal that appeared to have put the tie to bed.
But Barcelona wouldn’t be denied as the returning Pedri and Fati, both of which came off the bench, inspired a stunning fightback and got a late equaliser.
A fine cross by Jordi Alba was met by a clinical header from Fati, who rekindled Barcelona’s hopes of silverware amid a turbulent campaign.
But their hopes were dashed in the first half of extra-time when Casemiro led a lethal counter-attack and released Rodrygo to his right.
The forward passed to Vinicius in the penalty area but the Brazilian left the ball for Valverde, who gave his team the lead for the third time with a powerful strike.
Real are now scheduled to meet either Athletic Bilbao or Spanish champions Atletico Madrid in the final on Sunday.
Atletico and Bilbao are going to face off in the competition’s second semi-final on Thursday.
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