Athletic Club edged past an abject Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final on Thursday night, with two first-half goals enough to secure a 2-1 win.
Despite Los Blancos dominating the early proceedings, it was Marcelino’s side who took the lead with less than 20 minutes on the clock. After Lucas Vazquez’s sloppy pass gave away possession in the Real half, Bilbao sprung into life and Raul Garcia kept a cool head to slot past Thibaut Courtois.
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Vazquez was yet again at fault as Athletic doubled their lead, with the Spaniard hauling down Inigo Martinez in the area, allowing Garcia the chance to make the score 2-0 – an opportunity he never looked like passing on.
Madrid continued to push throughout the second half and Marcos Asensio twice came close only to be denied by the woodwork. Karim Benzema eventually pulled a goal back with a close-range strike, though Athletic hung on meaning they’ll face Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final.
That’s the match highlights out of the way, now to those player ratings…
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 5/10 – The former Chelsea man looked a little shaky in the early exchanges and was within inches of a calamitous mistake having held onto the ball for far too long. Very little he could do about either of the Athletic strikes.
Lucas Vazquez (RB) – 3/10 – Lazy pass into midfield allowed Athletic the chance to pounce and break the deadlock, before his awful defending saw the lead doubled as he conceded a penalty. An absolute horror show defensively.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – 6/10 – A solid and commanding performance alongside two players who looked like they were wearing clown shoes. Dependable in the air, never backed out of a challenge and came within inches of finding an equaliser late on.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 4/10 – Left a gaping hole in the centre of defence which afforded Raul Garcia the chance to put his side ahead. Hooked at half-time.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 5/10 – Played more like a wing-back than a left-back, offering a constant outlet down the Madrid left. Unable to provide any real quality when the chance presented itself.
Luka Modric (CM) – 5/10 – Always available to take the ball. Tried everything to break through a rigid Athletic backline but just couldn’t pick the lock. Not a night to remember.
Casemiro (CM) – 6/10 – Combative all game and looked to stretch the play with a number of pinpoint diagonals. Recycled possession well in the second half as Madrid looked to keep up the pressure.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 6/10 – Unusually guilty of conceding possession on a number of occasions, but he didn’t let it unsettle him as he continued to look to break the lines. Spread the play brilliantly and looked a constant threat whenever he was in the final third.
Marcos Asensio (RW) – 6/10 – Had very little influence on the first half, though he began to grow into the game in the second 45. Rattled the post with a decent effort before hitting the crossbar with an even better one. A performance of two halves – one anonymous, one very good.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 5/10 – Guilty of being a little one-track minded at times when he should have lifted his head up to find a teammate. Struggled to get into the game and really did look lost at times. Eventually got his goal but was hooked with Madrid searching for an equaliser which tells you everything you need to know.
Eden Hazard (LW) – 7/10 – Looked very lively early on and was unlucky not to open the scoring after some neat build-up play was thwarted at the last moment. A very promising display, and if Real Madrid are to challenge domestically and in Europe they’ll need Hazard to stay fit and continue to regain form.
Nacho (CB) – 5/10
Vinicius Junior (LW) – 5/10
Federico Valverde (CM) – 6/10
Mariano (ST) – N/A