TALLINN – Atletico Madrid finally got their own back on Real Madrid in European competition by lifting the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday, snatching a 4-2 win over their city rivals thanks to goals from midfielders Saul Niguez and Koke in extra time.
Diego Costa gave Europa League holders Atletico a dream start against Champions League winners Real by firing them ahead after 49 seconds, knocking down a long pass and smashing the ball into the net from a tight angle.
Real, playing their first competitive game since all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo left and Julen Lopetegui succeeded Zinedine Zidane as coach, pulled level when Karim Benzema nodded in a cross from Gareth Bale in the 27th minute.
Real, who beat Atletico in the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals and dumped them out of the competition in 2015 and 2017, looked set to pour more pain on their neighbours when Juanfran handled and Sergio Ramos tucked the penalty away.
Diego Simeone’s side, however, are renowned for their fighting spirit and despite being outplayed for sections of the second half they got back into the game with 12 minutes left through a thumping close-range finish from Costa.
Brazilian left back Marcelo had the chance to grab Real victory in stoppage-time but he slipped as he tried to meet a Bale cross and extra-time was needed to settle an enthralling contest between the fierce rivals.
Atletico were on the back foot for the start of the extra period but they were still able to press their opponents high up the pitch.
That led to Raphael Varane giving the ball away outside his area and Saul thumped home a stunning volley from Thomas Partey’s cross in the 98th minute to restore their lead.
Fellow academy graduate Koke struck six minutes later, finishing off a smooth team move to secure Atletico’s third Super Cup title.
“We always want to win whoever we are playing against but of course we really wanted to finally win a European final against Real Madrid,” Atletico’s Koke told reporters.
“It was a spectacular game and in the end when you play like a group it always pays off. This is a great start to a season which we hope will be very successful and very enjoyable.”
Lopetegui said his side had played well although he congratulated Atletico for their ruthlessness.
“A final is typically won by the team who capitalises on circumstances and Atletico are experts in doing that and they deserved to win the game,” Lopetegui said.
“The game didn’t start well for us as we were caught out unexpectedly, then we turned it around and were well on top and we had chances to kill the game off but we couldn’t do it.”(Reuters)