Real Madrid remains on course for a clean sweep of trophies this season after battling past Atlético Madrid to reach the Spanish Super Cup final, beating its city rival 5-3 after extra time in a thrilling encounter.
Atlético opened the scoring after just six minutes through Mario Hermoso, before Real hit back with two goals in the space of 10 minutes from Antonio Rüdiger and Ferland Mendy to take a 2-1 lead.
Antoine Griezmann leveled the scores again eight minutes before half-time with a historic 174th goal for Atlético, overtaking legendary forward Luis Aragones to become the club’s all-time leading goal scorer.
It took until the 77th minute for the fifth score of the game to arrive and it was an own goal from Rüdiger that gifted Atlético what looked like the winner after some calamitous defending from the Germany international and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
However, after a series of last-gasp blocks inside the Colchonero penalty area had kept Real at bay, Dani Carvajal – who celebrates his birthday on Thursday – emphatically hammered home the equalizing goal with just six minutes remaining.
Carvajal then turned provider in extra time to set up Joselu, who deflected the ball with his head just enough to lead Stefan Savić to score an own goal.
As Atlético threw everybody forward in search of an equalizer in stoppage time, Los Blancos cleared a corner kick and Brahim Díaz sprinted past Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who had come up for the corner, to steal the ball and finish into an empty net from distance.
“The team never gives up,” Carlo Ancelotti told reporters after the game, per Real. “It is the DNA of Real Madrid and a good learning experience for young players: we could lose today, but never give up.
“The team is very pleased and we have to be calm because it was a game with a lot of emotions. There are 90 minutes left to win the title and that is the objective.
“I have a lot of confidence in the squad because those who have come on from the bench also give confidence,” the Italian added. “The whole squad is very motivated and engaged. That’s the only way to win these types of games.”
The Spanish Super Cup, previously contested in a single final, became a four-team tournament in 2019 and was moved to Saudi Arabia.
Real midfielder Toni Kroos was booed every time he touched the ball during Wednesday’s match, widely reported to be an apparent response from Saudi fans to comments made by the World Cup winner about the country’s human rights record and weak domestic league.
Kroos told Sports Illustrated in August 2023 that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is “the one thing that would stop me from such a move” – referring to his refusal to move to the country’s Saudi Pro League (SPL) in the future – and added that players moving to the SPL is “a decision for money and against football.”
This match was the first in a trilogy between the city rivals, who face each other three times in three different competitions in the space of three weeks.
The first rematch arrives as early as next Thursday, when the pair clash once again in the Copa del Rey round of 16, before they meet for a third time in the league on February 4.
However, Atlético manager Diego Simeone insisted Thursday’s match “isn’t a rematch, it’s a new game.”
“We played a good match,” Simeone said after the match. “I think we could have won the tie in 90 minutes, we have to learn about specific situations that arrive during the match.
“We did a lot of things well; other things that the team needs to improve in and that depends a lot on our work.
“I think we competed well, they [Real] know that we know how to compete and, hopefully, we can improve in the aspects we need to improve in [before Thursday’s match].”
Real Madrid will now face either Barcelona or Osasuna in Sunday’s final.