Atletico Madrid stun Barca to set up all-Madrid Spanish Super Cup final

Atletico Madrid's Spanish forward Alvaro Morata takes a penalty during the Spanish Super Cup semi final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on January 9, 2020, at the King Abdullah Sport City in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. (AFP)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Atletico Madrid stun Barca to set up all-Madrid Spanish Super Cup final

JEDDAH: Atletico Madrid sprung a surprise in the Spanish Super Cup by staging a thrilling comeback to beat Barcelona 3-2 on Thursday and set up a final against Real Madrid.
Barca looked on course for a Sunday showdown against Real when they led Atletico 2-1 with nine minutes left but instead it will be a Madrid derby in Saudi Arabia to decide who lifts the trophy.
All five goals were scored during a wild second half in Jeddah that began with Koke putting Atletico in front, just 21 seconds after coming on as a substitute at the interval.
Goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann turned the game on its head, only for Atletico to hit back with a late double, Alvaro Morata converting a penalty in the 81st minute before Angel Correa found a winner in the 86th.
In between, Barcelona also had two goals ruled out after VAR spotted tight offsides while Atleti were denied what looked a clear penalty at 2-2, after the ball clipped the hand of Gerard Pique.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Wednesday he preferred the old format but his strong team selection, that included Messi, Griezmann and Luis Suarez, suggested this was a tournament he was eager to win.
It remains to be seen how this defeat might affect the La Liga title race, with Real Madrid and Atletico now enjoying the opportunity not only to win a trophy but score a psychological boost too.
Barca dominated the first half and Griezmann had the best chance, only for his lifted finish from the angle to be saved by the excellent Jan Oblak.
Atletico survived and frustration spilled over at the break as Jordi Alba poked a finger in the face of Joao Felix, who then went head-to-head with Messi. Suarez also had to be pulled away by Stefan Savic.
A spikey end to the first period was trumped by an explosive start to the second as Koke, on for less than a minute, gave Atletico the lead. Felix started the move and Correa slipped a pass behind the scrambling Sergi Roberto for Koke to stab into the bottom corner.
Simeone chose not to celebrate and if he was worried about the amount of time left, he was right, as Barcelona scored twice in 11 minutes.
First, Messi equalised after muscling his way through both Koke and Savic on the edge of the area and then he fired in again after steering a high ball around Koke. This time, however, VAR showed his elbow had served as a cushion.
Disappointment was brief though as Alba crossed for Suarez and while his header was brilliant pawed away by Oblak, Griezmann nodded in the rebound.
Pique thought he had a third after Arturo Vidal half-volleyed Messi's free-kick across the box but again VAR intervened.
Atletico were revived. Correa should have pulled them level but appeared keener to find Felix than shoot himself and when the rebound did fall to the Felix, Sergi Roberto made a last-ditch block.
But the floodgates had opened in the Barca defence. Vitolo was next to go clear and this time he was brought down by Neto. Morata converted the penalty.
Then, Morata skipped free down the right and his cross seemed to strike the dangling hand of Pique but after consulting VAR, the referee strangely decided against another penalty.
Yet moments later, Atletico were in again. Correa this time sprinted in behind and while Neto made a block, the ball had enough power to cross the line. Now, Simeone could celebrate.


Saudi helpers step up to the tee at first women’s golf tournament

Updated 26 February 2020

Saudi helpers step up to the tee at first women’s golf tournament

  • Volunteers will have the chance to step inside the ropes and get up close with the sport’s leading players

JEDDAH: Saudi volunteers will be able to write their names into the history books by helping at the first-ever Saudi Ladies International professional golf tournament.

Competition organizers are looking to recruit hundreds of people to help with the smooth running of the four-day event from March 19-22 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

Volunteers will have the chance to step inside the ropes and get up close with the sport’s leading players, including Order of Merit winner Beth Allen, three-time Ladies European Tour (LET) winner Carly Booth and Solheim Cup hero Azahara Munoz, as they compete for $1 million in prize money. 

The LET tournament in Saudi Arabia will mark the first time that professional female golfers have played competitively in the country, and comes hot on the heels of last month’s triumphant men’s equivalent, the Saudi International, won by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.

Online registration is now open for the debut event’s volunteers’ program.

Volunteers will be briefed before the event and receive a tournament uniform to wear while they work.

Marshals, including traveling, static, crossing and transitional positions, will be required for the tournament. Mobile scoreboard operators and walking scorers are among other roles that will offer volunteers a unique insight into the world-class event.

Mike Oliver, event director at Golf Saudi, said: “For the first year of this event, we are offering volunteers a chance to be part of history, working at the first professional women’s golf event to be held in the country.

“Volunteers, from both Saudi Arabia and abroad, will play a key role in helping us deliver a successful inaugural tournament,” he said.

A certificate of service will be presented to volunteers at the completion of the tournament.

As a bonus, volunteers will have their photo taken with the 2020 ladies winner during the prize presentation — a moment that will be seen by a worldwide audience via live broadcasts.