Real Madrid secured the first trophy of Carlo Ancelotti’s second spell as head coach by strolling to a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final.
Luka Modric and Karim Benzema scored as the LaLiga leaders proved far too strong for Athletic, who beat Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Benzema’s goal was a second-half penalty and took him to 18 career goals against Athletic. They are the team against whom he has scored the most goals, and he was a threat throughout this one-sided game.
Even when Athletic were awarded a late spot-kick themselves, with Eder Militao sent off for handling Raul Garcia’s header, they could not take advantage. Garcia’s penalty carried plenty of punch, but Thibaut Courtois saved with his legs.
Ancelotti was a Champions League winner during his first stint with Madrid, and the experienced Italian will hope this success in Riyadh proves to be the first of many trophies second time around.
Madrid had a string of early half-chances, with Benzema, Toni Kroos and Modric among those who could not capitalise.
Casemiro then threatened twice in quick succession, forcing Unai Simon to tip an ambitious long-range strike wide for a corner, before a looping header from the midfielder was touched over the bar by the goalkeeper.
Modric made the breakthrough in the 38th minute. Rodrygo dribbled into the Athletic penalty area from the right flank before laying off the ball sensibly to his veteran team-mate, and from 17 yards the Croatian swept an elegant shot high into the right corner.
Madrid were awarded a penalty after a VAR check in the 51st minute when Benzema’s shot struck Yeray Alvarez on the arm. Benzema powered the spot-kick into the left corner and Madrid looked home and hosed, having barely faced any pressure from Athletic, who won this competition last year.
The 89th-minute penalty could have made for a nervy finish, but Courtois came to Madrid’s rescue.
What does it mean? Classy Madrid always in control
The Madrid side that looked stale at times under Zinedine Zidane last season have so much more purpose and fizz to them this season, and they never looked in trouble here.
Modric’s finish was a treat and Benzema’s penalty gave them a stranglehold. There were late chances for Athletic, undeniably, but the finishing of the Basques left plenty to be desired. Athletic ended up with a higher expected goals (xG) total than Madrid (2.1 to 1.4), which is based on the quality of a team’s chances, but class won out here.
Kroos in 100 club
Kroos played a game-high 100 passes and 95 of those were accurate, while he also sent over a team-high six crosses and five of those were rated as good by Opta.
He and Casemiro both won possession nine times, more than anyone else on the pitch, and while neither took the goalscoring glory during the game, they played an instrumental role in Madrid’s dominance of midfield, securing medals and the trophy to take home to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Defying the history books
Madrid beat Athletic in a single-game final for the first time, after losing the previous five. Those previous defeats all came in the Copa del Rey, back in 1916, 1939, 1933, 1943 and 1958.
Real Madrid have a Copa del Rey tussle with Elche on Thursday, while Athletic host Barcelona in the same competition on the same evening.