A Saudi Arabian Spanish derby ended with Real Madrid joy in Jeddah.
But it took penalties to settle it: this restyled Spanish Super Cup on Sunday night drew out over a goalless 120 minutes and then was distilled simply to mind over matter.
Dani Carvalhal, Mariano, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos all converted, by then 10-man Madrid unblemished in their famous white. Atletico shuddered in the shootout. Saul and Thomas Partey went up first and failed to convert, leaving Ramos to clinch it.
Just like their penalties, Zinedine Zidane now boasts a flawless record in finals. His ninth in charge brought the Bernabeu club an 11th Super Cup crown. A crammed King Abdullah Sports City, pro-Madrid and having this week witnessed four of Spain’s finest clubs, rejoiced.
Before it all unfolded, 0-0 hardly told the tale of the tie. In the first half, Casemiro and Modric fired at Jan Oblak in the Atletico goal; at the other end, Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata fired wide.
After the interval, Luka Jovic went close, his left-footed shot scuffed somewhat before trickling past the post. Not long after, Federico Valverde conspired somehow to miss with an unmarked header from six yards.
Madrid were almost made the pay 10 minutes from time. Kieran Trippier’s clever chipped through-ball allowed Morata to advance to within yards from Courtois, but the Belgian stood strong to palm away for a corner. Eighty minutes in, it represented Atletico’s first meaningful opportunity.
Understandably, gaps appeared in extra-time, requiring Ramos to at one point pressure substitute Vitolo just as he shot at Courtois. From the resultant corner, Jose Gimenez rose highest and then held his head in his hands. His header, at the back post and not far out, was high and wide.
In the next half, Morata’s overhead kick struck Courtois’ outstretched leg and Madrid breathed a huge sigh of relief. Oblak got in on the act right after, repelling Modric’s rasping shot then pushing away Mariano’s rebound. Then Valverde saw red, hacking down Morata as he raced clear, the contest there to be won.
As a scuffle broke out and quickly diffused, Zidane and the Madrid bench toasted Valverde on his way toward the tunnel. Clearly, they knew he had taken one for the team.
Before time was done, twice Courtois saved sharply; Vitolo twice involved.
So the Super Cup came down to a test of Madrid mettle. In the ensuing shootout, Saul struck the post and Courtois saved brilliantly from Partey. Trippier offered Atletico a short reprieve – his side’s only successful conversion – and then Ramos rolled home the winner.
Madrid were Spanish Cup champions once more