Valencia 1-3 Real Madrid
Real Madrid are through to the Spanish Super Cup final after a convincing 3-1 victory over Valencia in Saudi Arabia.
Both sides came into this match on impressive unbeaten runs, although the Spanish Super Cup 2020 still had Real as the favourites.
And in the end, Real more than justified those odds as their immense quality shone through despite missing three of their top forwards. Isco stepped up in their absence to slice a hapless Valencia side apart.
Highlights of the game
The big Spanish Super Cup 2020 news for Real Madrid was that they were without three first-choice forwards in Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, and Eden Hazard. In their place, Luka Jovic, Isco, and Luka Modric formed their front three.
And despite the absence of their star trio, Real started quite brightly. They very nearly took the lead on five minutes through Raphael Varane. The French centre-back, who also scored in their 3-0 win over Getafe, got on the end of a Casemiro cross, but his bullet header was well-saved by Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech.
However, the Real pressure eventually paid off as they found the breakthrough on 16 minutes through Toni Kroos. With Domenech way off his line trying to organise his defence for a corner, the quick-thinking German expertly curled the ball toward goal as the Valencia keeper was unable to recover in time.
Valencia finally had their first real chance on goal close to the half-hour mark. Kevin Gameiro, starting up front with Rodrigo injured and leading scorer Maxi Gomez only on the bench, found space inside the penalty area, but the Frenchman blazed his shot over the bar.
Ten minutes later, Real showed Valencia how to be clinical in front of goal as they doubled their lead. Fede Valverde made a great run into the box and cut back to Luka Modric, who had his shot blocked. But the rebound fell right to the path of Isco, who coolly chested the ball and volleyed it home.
Isco came close to getting Real’s third just three minutes later as his fine header from a corner hit the post. Luka Jovic pounced on the rebound, but Domenech made a brilliant save with his leg to deny the young Serbian.
Despite their two-goal advantage, Real kept pushing forward in the second half. Kroos and Isco attempted long-range efforts which went over the bar, while Fede Valverde’s shot went just wide and hit the side netting.
But they eventually got the goal to seal the tie through Luka Modric. The Croatian midfield maestro displayed the quality which saw him win the Ballon d’Or as he curled in a beautiful strike with the outside of his right foot.
Valencia did get a consolation goal for their troubles in stoppage time, although it came through some rather fortunate circumstances. After a VAR review, they were awarded a penalty after the ball struck Varane’s arm, despite the defender unable to do much about it.
Valencia captain Dani Parejo stepped up to fire the penalty past Thibaut Courtois, who missed out on keeping his fourth clean sheet in a row.
But that was just about the only negative to take for Real, who put together one of their more impressive performances of the season even with some key absentees in their attack.
The statistics bore out just how one-sided this match was. Real controlled 62 per cent of possession and outshot Valencia, 17-8. They also had the edge on shots on target, 6-4.
With the likes of Benzema and Hazard out, Isco starred in his role as Real’s main creative force. The Spanish midfielder led the team with four shots, completed 94 per cent of his passes, and completed seven dribbles.
Valencia still have a good 11 days until their next match, which will be away to Mallorca. The Majorcans have been on quite a slump, going winless in their last six matches (five defeats, one draw).
As for Real, they will await the winner of the other semi-final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to learn their opponent for the final.
And once they return to La Liga action, they will have an important matchup at home against fourth-placed side Sevilla. Real won the first meeting between the two sides 1-0, with Karim Benzema scoring the only goal of the game.
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