Barcelona to battle Real Madrid for Spanish Super Cup

Riyadh, Jan 12 (EFE).- Barcelona are headed to the Spanish Super Cup final against archrivals Real Madrid after prevailing 2-2 (4-2) here Thursday over Real Betis as Marc-Andre ter Stegen stopped two penalties in the shootout at King Fahd International Stadium.

The German keeper made the difference on a night when Betis came from behind twice and the Blaugrana had two goals disallowed for offside infractions.

Defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid needed a shootout to get past Valencia, the 2022 Copa del Rey runners-up, in the first semifinal.

Real Madrid won 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first Clasico of the 2022-2023 campaign, but current league leaders Barcelona may like their chances against a Blancos squad that has struggled since the World Cup break.

Barcelona dominated at the start of the semifinal, but nearly went behind in the 22nd minute thanks to a poor pass by defender Jules Kounde.

Betis forward Nabil Fekir skipped around Ter Stegen, who had come out, and was poised to score when Ronald Araujo defused the threat with an excellent tackle.

Pedri put the ball past Betis keeper Claudio Bravo seconds later, only to see the goal chalked off because Raphinha was offside in the buildup.

Ter Stegen did well to deny German Pezzella in the 32nd minute and Robert Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the 40th, knocking in the rebound after Bravo turned aside the Polish striker’s initial effort.

Betis pushed hard for an equalizer for the break and Ter Stegen was tested again in the 45th minute by Luiz Henrique.

Fekir brought the 2022 Copa del Rey champions level with a goal in the 77th and Lewandowski’s marker three minutes later to reclaim the lead for Barcelona was erased by VAR.

Bravo tipped a shot from Ansu Fati over the cross-bar on Barcelona’s last bid to avoid extra-time.

The keeper couldn’t stop Fati from putting Barcelona up 2-1 three minutes into the first extra-time period. Loren Moron equalized for Betis in the 101st minute.

Fati forced another save from Bravo in the 118th minute, just after Betis midfielder Andres Guardado was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in the space of six minutes.

The sides entered the third round of the shootout level at 2-2 after goals by Willian Jose, Lewandowski, Moron and Franck Kessie.

Ter Stegen stopped Juanmi before Fati converted and William Carvalho likewise lost the dual with the keeper on the next attempt for Betis, making Pedri’s goal academic. EFE omb/dr

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