Barcelona set up a Supercopa de Espana final clash with arch rivals Real Madrid thanks to a penalty shootout win over Real Betis.
The game finished 2-2 after extra time, before Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved two penalties in the shootout to earn his side the win.
As expected, the early exchanges were dominated by Barcelona as the Catalan club enjoyed over 80% of the ball in the opening 20 minutes as Gavi and Pedri controlled the game.
One of the pair – Pedri – had the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute after he latched onto a delicate chipped cross from Raphinha inside the penalty area to steer the ball past Claudio Bravo. After a quick VAR check however, Raphinha was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up.
That offside goal seemed to wake Betis up a bit in the final third, and they would carve open their first real effort on goal shortly after. That effort on goal would come from German Pezzella, who headed a Nabil Fekir near post corner kick goalward, only for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to get down well and palm clear.
Barca would then break the deadlock in the 40th minute through Robert Lewandowski (who else?). The ex-Bayern man was played through on goal by a slide through ball from Dembele, and got his goal after his first effort was blocked and bobbled perfectly back into his own path.
That goal didn’t deter Real Betis however, as they continued to press forward in search of a goal. Just before half-time they almost got it through Luis Enrique, who forced ter Stegen into a great save with his first time effort from inside the penalty area.
La Blaugrana so nearly made it 2-0 at the very start of the second half when Jordi Alba curled a brilliant low cross into the box. The unmarked Lewandowski was the first to swing wildly at the cross, before Raphinha did the same with the goal gaping.
The majority of the rest of the half was a bit of a non-event if we’re being truthful, with neither looking capable/bothered to get the second goal of the game up until the final 15 minutes.
In the final 15 minutes (in the 77th minute to be exact) that second goal would come courtesy of Nabil Fekir. The French forward would make it 1-1 by drilling the ball into the bottom right hand corner after some neat hold up play from Henrique inside the Barca penalty area.
Three minutes later, Barca thought they were back on top when Lewandowski side-footed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net following some decent play on the flank by substitute Ferran Torres. In the build-up however, Torres was found to have been offside, meaning the score would stay at 1-1 and the game would go to extra time.
Almost immediately from kick off in extra time, Barca got their goal – and what a goal it was.
Substitute Ansu Fati watched a deflected cross which looped high in the air all the way to the edge of the penalty area where, with one swing of his boot, he volleyed fantastically into the bottom right corner.
Amazingly, that wasn’t the end of the goalscoring as Real Betis drew level in the 100th minute in the most audacious of ways. Loren Moron was the man to get the goal, controlling a cross into his mid-riff by Henrique while holding off Araujo before backheeling past both his marker and ter-Stegen to make it 2-2.
The only action of the second half of extra time ended up being Andrés Guardado receiving his second yellow card having only come on the dying embers of normal time.
In the penalty shootout, Willian Jose, Lewandowski, Moron, Kessie would coolly convert their spot kicks before Juanmi would record the first miss.
Ansu Fati would capitalise to give Barca the shootout lead before ter Stegen saved William Carvalho’s penalty.
Pedri was then the hero as he converted his penalty to help Barca into the Supercopa de Espana final.
GK – Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 8/10 – Made a few really good saves in the first half but was eventually beaten in the 77th at his near post. Saved two penalties in the shootout.
RB – Sergi Roberto – 5/10 – The captain for the night put in a typically ‘meh’ performance.
CB – Ronald Araujo – 4/10 – Looked very uncomfortable on the ball at times.
CB – Jules Kounde – 5/10 – Decent in the opening hour, not so decent after that.
LB – Jordi Alba – 8/10 – Best player on the pitch. Great both in his defensive third and in the final third.
CM – Gavi – 6/10 – Some nice touches on the ball not quite as creative on the ball as Xavi probably would’ve liked him to be.
CM – Frenkie de Jong – 7/10 – Controlled the pace of the game well.
CM – Pedri – 7/10 – Scored an offside goal in the first half and was really tidy in possession all evening.
RW – Raphinha – 4/10 – Not quite at the races this evening…to say the least.
ST – Robert Lewandowski – 6/10 – Looked rusty but managed to score.
LW – Ousmane Dembele – 7/10 – Lively out on the left flank and his incisive run led to the opener.
SUB – Sergio Busquets – 4/10 – Slowed Barcelona’s played down way too much and it cost them late in normal time.
SUB – Ferran Torres – N/A.
SUB – Marcos Alonso – N/A.
SUB – Andreas Christensen – N/A.
SUB – Ansu Fati – 7/10 – Scored a wonderful goal in extra time.
SUB – Franck Kessie – N/A.