Athletic Club came back from a goal down to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the semi-final of the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening. The result means that they’ll be the ones to face Real Madrid in the final on Sunday evening after Los Blancos beat Barcelona in the other semi-final last night.
Joao Felix had the ball in the net inside a minute only for the linesman to rightfully flag for an offside. But that was pretty much it for a first half characterised by a half-empty stadium with a flat atmosphere. The second half, however, was another story.
It was Felix who broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute, his header beating Unai Simon when it probably shouldn’t have after Thomas Lemar whipped in a corner from the left side. Athletic struck back in style, however, scoring twice in the space of four minutes to turn the tie on its head.
First Yeray powered home after being assisted by Iker Muniain in the 77th minute and then Nico Williams – Inaki’s little brother – scored the winner in the 81st. Athletic, the holders of the Supercopa of course, can now dream of retaining their title.
“I’m proud to coach this team,” Marcelino said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “They’re capable of competing against any rival. We played a fairly complete game from the start. We didn’t allow ourselves to come under too much pressure – a shot from [Yannick] Carrasco, one from Joao… The clearest chance of the first half was ours. In the second the goals came and so did a very good save from [Jan] Oblak. But we had control of the game and we were the superior side.”
The Asturian also looked ahead to the clash with Madrid on Sunday. “I admire Carlo Ancelotti as a person and as a professional,” he said. “So far his has been the best team in the championship, with [Karim] Benzema clearly the best player and another in Vinicius [Junior] who’s also at that level. Those three midfielders… There’s no weakness at all but we’re going to have to try and take every advantage. It was very strange that in our two games against them we didn’t earn a single point. Let’s hope that our reward is going to come on Sunday.”