Reuters / Riyadh
Real Madrid were crowned Spanish Super Cup champions after goals from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema earned them a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Saudi Arabia on Sunday night.
Real took the lead in the 38th minute after Rodrygo sprinted past two defenders before passing to Modric, who rifled a shot into the back of the net.
Benzema extended their lead in the second half with a penalty after the video assistant referee spotted a handball from Yeray Alvarez inside the area.
Real were reduced to 10 men three minutes from time after Eder Militao was sent off for a goalline handball.
Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois brilliantly stopped Raul Garcia’s penalty kick with his left foot in the dying seconds.
“You can never get tired of winning,” Modric told a news conference.
“I enjoy the same every title, when you play at Real Madrid you have to win. It’s part of the DNA of this club. Fans expect the most of you. So now we have to look forward to win more and again in the next months.”
After two exciting semi-finals, the final was a one-sided encounter, with Real Madrid completely dominating and never facing any real danger. Real enjoyed the great majority of support from the 30,000 fans in the King Fahd Stadium, which was at 50% capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
France striker Karim Benzema had the backing of the Saudi supporters, but it was Modric’s night.
Carlo Ancelotti had said in the buildup to the game that his side were the very essence of a counter-attacking team and on Sunday Modric and forward Rodrygo would have made their coach proud, with a perfectly executed counter to open the scoring.
Benzema has made a habit of scoring against Athletic and doubled the advantage from the spot with his 18th goal in 26 games against the Basque side, the most he has scored against one team in his career.
It was the 12th time Real had won the Spanish Super Cup, having claimed both editions of the competition in Saudi Arabia. Last year’s edition, won by Athletic, was held in Spain due to the pandemic.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti hailed a job well done after a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
It was his first trophy since winning the 2017 German Super Cup with Bayern Munich, four and a half years ago.
“Yes, I won many trophies but It’s been a long time since my last one,” Ancelotti told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
“Winning represents the end of your work. In the public eye, it means that you have done a good job but that is not always the truth. I think I did a good job at Everton and Napoli but I haven’t won there.”
The 62-year-old was in charge when Real won their 10th Champions League trophy in 2014.
He also won the Copa del Rey, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup with Madrid in his first spell in charge, which ended in 2015.
He only needs to win LaLiga to be the first manager in the club’s history to win all six major trophies available. They are currently top of the table.
“I feel lucky and proud to have the opportunity to manage this team,” Ancelotti said. “You can never get tired of winning. It’s beautiful, something you enjoy a lot, watching the players happy, celebrating.”
Added to his five trophies with Real Madrid, Ancelotti won three as manager of Bayern, one with Paris St Germain, three with Chelsea, eight with Milan and one with Juventus.
Real lead LaLiga with 49 points from 21 games, five ahead of second-placed Sevilla.
They are in contention in the Champions League, where they will play PSG in the round of 16, and in the Copa del Rey where they will play at Elche next Thursday, also in the last 16.
“We won’t have time to celebrate, there is another competition play in a few days,” Ancelotti said.
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