Spanish Super Cup: Athletic Bilbao beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 to reach final

Unai Simon's own goal put Atletico Madrid in front before Athletic Bilbao equalized through Yeray Alvarez and Nico Williams scored the winner.

Athletic Bilbao beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final fixture on Thursday; Credit: Twitter/@Athletic_en

Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Thursday to enter the Spanish Super Cup final. Nico Williams scored a late winner for Bilbao in Riyadh’s half-empty King Fahd stadium. The game was a cagey affair until Atletico Madrid broke the deadlock through Unai Simon’s own goal just after the hour-mark. After the opening goal, teams woke up and played with a bit more urgency. Yeray Alvarez equalized for Bilbao before Williams scored the winner nine minutes from time. Meanwhile, Atletico defender Jose Maria Gimenez was sent off in stoppage time for a foul on Inigo Martinez.

The Spanish Super Cup returned to the Middle East country after the COVID-19 induced pandemic forced last year’s  competition to be played in Spain. The tournament is played in Saudi Arabia as part of a deal reportedly worth EUR 30 million a year until 2029.

In the first half, both teams struggled to attack and created few scoring opportunities. Diego Simeone’s took the lead in the 62nd minute after Joao Felix’s header from Thomas Lemar’s corner kick hit the post and bounced off the back of Athletic goalkeeper Simon and crossed the line.

In response, two minutes later, Alvarez’ close-range header was brilliantly saved by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak. However the central defender didn’t miss in his second attempt 13 minutes from time. Iker Munian’s corner from the right-flank was headed home by Alvarez from six yards out.

Williams’ winner

Marcelino Garcia’s side completed the turnaround when substitute Nico Williams scored the winner in the 81st minute. It was yet another goal from a set piece as Atletico defenders failed to properly clear a corner kick and the ball fell to Williams  inside the box. The 19-year-old forward’s low shot went past Oblak and into the bottom corner.

“I have dreamt of this moment with my brother many times,” Williams, younger brother of Athletic striker Inaki, told reporters.

“Their goal was a hard blow, but we are as tough as nails and we know how to bounce back. We are prepared for any challenge and now we’ll face a tough opponent in Real Madrid. We go all-in and let’s hope we win another Super Cup.”

Atletico lost midfielder Geoffrey Kondongbia because of an injury and Gimenez was shown a red card in stoppage time after his high kick inside the area hit the head of Martinez. Athletic will face Real Madrid in the final at King Fahd International stadium on Sunday.

Sportslumo Desk

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