Thibaut Courtois Leads Real Madrid to Super Cup Final After a 1-1 draw in Riyadh on Wednesday, Real Madrid defeated Valencia on penalties to win 4-3 and advance to the Spanish Super Cup final.
In a difficult start to 2023, the reigning Super Cup champions were again below their best, but Courtois excelled, making crucial saves and then decisively denying Jose Gaya in the shootout after extra time.
Madrid will then play either Barcelona or Real Betis in the final on Sunday, which takes place on Thursday.
Madrid, the Spanish Cup runners-up, faced La Liga champions Madrid. Madrid had chances to win within the first 90 minutes, but Courtois had to make a stunning reflex save from Fran Perez in extra time.
Karim Benzema had given Madrid the lead from the spot, but Samuel Lino’s goal at the start of the second half brought Gennaro Gattuso’s team level.
Giorgi Mamardashvili of Valencia also made some excellent stops, including one against Vinicius Junior in the final minute, which forced extra time.
Gattuso stated, “My goalkeeper made four or five very good saves.” Despite the fact that Courtois is one of the best four or five goalkeepers in the world.
Luck is necessary, and today we lacked it. Two penalties went unused by us.”
The first was stopped by Eray Comert, who also gave away the penalty that Benzema converted, and the second was stopped by Courtois, who saw that Gaya intended to shoot down the middle.
Courtois stated to Movistar, “Obviously as a goalkeeper you have to study penalties.”
Despite criticism over the hosts’ human rights record, the Spanish Super Cup will continue to be held in Saudi Arabia until at least 2029 in the current “final four” format, which was first held there in 2020.
Benzema’s glorious dribble gave Los Blancos a strong start, but Cenk Ozkacar did well to stop him.
Edinson Cavani’s header was stopped by Courtois, who also did enough to stop Toni Lato, who came in from the right and tried unsuccessfully to get a penalty when he slipped.
When Benzema was pushed through by Eder Militao just before the halftime break, Madrid took the lead.
The forward tucked away the penalty that came as a result of Comert’s careless fall in the area and offended Mamardashvili.
Before the break, Courtois made a stunning stop to deny Cavani, even though the seasoned Uruguayan forward would have been ruled out for offside.
Lino scored just seconds after the restart at the King Fahd International Stadium after escaping Lucas Vazquez to finish Lato’s cross.
Vazquez was sent home with an injury for Madrid, and Militao was scratched from the game after being shot in the head.
Vinicius, who had been quiet, should have given Madrid the victory in the final minute, but Mamardashvili stopped him with his legs from close range.
As the clock ticked down, his counterpart Courtois made a miraculous save, deflecting Perez’s near-post effort to safety with sensational reflexes.
In the penalty shootout, Cavani and Benzema both scored from the spot, but Comert failed, and Luka Modric gave Madrid the lead.
Because Courtois denied Gaya, Los Blancos were able to convert all four of their spot kicks and did not require a fifth.
Despite the defeat, Valencia midfielder Andre Almeida stated, “We showed our qualities so that the fans believe in us.”
In contrast, Ancelotti acknowledged that his team’s performance was subpar and attributed it to the Qatar winter World Cup.