Real Madrid advance to Spanish Super Cup final on penalties

Riyadh, Jan 11 (EFE).- Defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid needed a penalty shootout here Wednesday to dispatch Valencia 1-1 (4-3) in their Spanish Super Cup semifinal.

The Blancos will go on to face the winner of Thursday’s clash between 2022 Copa del Rey champions Real Betis and Barcelona, who finished second last season in LaLiga.

Most of the less-than-capacity crowd at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium were there to cheer for Real Madrid and especially for captain Karim Benzema, the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

But Copa del Rey runners-up Valencia, currently 11th in LaLiga, showed no sign of being intimidated and Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was tested in the 20th minute by Edinson Cavani.

After chances for Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo and Fede Valverde, Benzema opened the scoring in the 39th, converting from the spot after Valencia’s Eray Comert brought him down in the box, and the Blancos looked to be in command.

But just 22 seconds into the second half, Samuel Lino equalized for Valencia, assisted by Toni Lato.

The news got worse for Real Madrid as the second half wore on, as defender Lucas Vazquez left the pitch with an injury in the 69th minute, to be followed five minutes later by fellow back-liner Eder Militao, left woozy after inadvertently stopping a shot with his head.

Benzema fired over the cross-bar in the 88th minute and Vini was poised to win the match for the Blancos in the 95th when Valencia keeper Giorgio Mamardashvili came up with a tremendous save to force the contest to extra-time.

The Georgian thwarted Vini again early in the first extra-time and robbed Toni Kroos in the 105th minute. Courtois came up big to stop Fran Perez on Valencia’s best opportunity of the extension and the sides remained deadlock 1-1 when the referee blew the whistle after 122 minutes.

Cavani and Benzema both scored on the first round of penalties and Valencia’s Comert began the second by sending his shot high over the cross-bar.

Luka Modric, Kroos and Marco Asensio all converted, as did Itaix Moriba and Hugo Guillamon to leave Real Madrid with a 4-3 edge before Courtois saved Jose Luis Gaya’s shot to seal it for the Blancos. EFE omb/dr

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