Monday, January 24, 2022

Madrid beats Barcelona for the 100th time, reaches the cup final. Nation World News

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia ( Associated Press) — Barcelona put up a good fight as an underdog, but Real Madrid were finally celebrating again after a thrilling “classico” clash between the Spanish powerhouses in Saudi Arabia.

Federico Valverde scored in extra time to give Real Madrid a 3-2 win over Barcelona on Wednesday to seal their 100th victory over rivals and a place in the final of the Spanish Super Cup.

Barcelona equalized twice in regular time, but could not recover after Valverde scored from close range at an eight-minute breakaway in extra time to give Madrid their fifth straight win over the Catalan club in all competitions.

Defending Super Cup champions Athletic Bilbao will take on Spanish league champions Atletico Madrid in the second semi-final on Thursday.

“We competed well,” said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. “It’s not the result we wanted but we are one step closer to victory. I am very proud of my team. We have to leave with our heads after the way we played against the Real Madrid team, whose season It’s going very well.”

The Spanish Super Cup is being played again in Saudi Arabia following the coronavirus pandemic after last year’s edition was moved back to Spain. The competition was moved to Saudi Arabia – and expanded from two to four teams in a “Final Four” format – as part of a deal reportedly worth 30 million euros ($34 million) a year until 2029. ) Of.

The changes drew criticism from human rights activists and complaints from fans who liked the contest remained in Spain. Among those complaining was athletic midfielder Raul García, who said there was “no point” in playing the game away from Spain this week.

It was Madrid’s 100th win over Barcelona in 248 competitive matches against rivals. Barcelona have 96 victories, although none since 2019.

“I have to admit that Barcelona played well,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It was a similar match. We were adept at counterattacking.”

It was mostly an even match but Madrid looked to be a more dangerous team due to their counterattacks, led by Vinicius Junior and Benzema.

Both gave Madrid the lead in the 25th minute after Benzema stole the ball from Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets near the midfield line and fed Vinicius, who scored a run in the field, and with a shot to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. brought to the top. Net.

Barcelona equalized with a provisional goal at the end of the half. Madrid defender Eder Militao tried to clear a ball from inside the area, but his shot bounced off Barcelona striker Luc de Jong and then went off the post before going over the line.

Benzema hit the post in the 69th, then a few minutes later Madrid were again pushed from close range by a rebound of a deflection by Ter Stegen, followed by a cross by Danny Carvajal. Ter Stegen had blocked another Benzema shot just moments earlier.

Anu Fati, who replaced de Jong in the 66th, leveled the match again in the 83rd with a header from a well-placed cross by Jordi Alba.

Valverde, who replaced Luka Modric in the 83rd, scored the winner in extra time after a sharp counterattack by Madrid, in which a cross by Rodrigo was converted from the right side, with Barcelona’s defense overwhelming.

Madrid came in as one of the hottest teams in Spain and was a Barcelona favorite even after Lionel Messi’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain. The Catalan club are in hand with a game 17 points behind their rivals in the Spanish league.

It was the first classic for Xavi Hernandez as Barcelona coach. Ronald Koeman was still on top when the league lost 2-1 to Catalan club Madrid at Camp Nou in the season’s first Clásico last October.

Ferran Torres made his Barcelona debut after being signed to Manchester City. Torres and young midfielder Pedri Gonzalez arrived in Saudi Arabia later than their teammates as they tested positive for the coronavirus. Torres, who was replaced at halftime, had not played with the Spain national team since an injury in October.

Madrid were without defender David Alaba due to injury.

Madrid made it to the “Final Four” after finishing second behind Atletico in the league last season. Barcelona qualified as the Copa del Rey champions, which it won at Athletic.

Only about 30,000 fans were allowed at the 62,000-capacity King Fahd International Stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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More Associated Press Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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