Soccer-Real Madrid beat Athletic 2-0 to claim Super Cup title


Soccer Football - Spanish Super Cup Final - Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao - King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh, Saudia Arabia - January 16, 2022 Athletic Bilbao's Yeray Alvarez concedes a penalty after a VAR review REUTERS/Albert Gea

RIYADH (Reuters) -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.

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.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)

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