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)
Short Url
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.


PSL 2020: Zalmi fans get special buses for Rawalpindi showdown 

Updated 47 min 58 sec ago

PSL 2020: Zalmi fans get special buses for Rawalpindi showdown 

  • Peshawar Zalmi takes on Lahore Qalandars at Rawalpindi stadium on Friday
  • Zalmi owner Javed Afridi arranged 5 special buses for fans to be part of live action

PESHAWAR: Peshawar Zalmi franchise administration arranged special buses to bring hundreds of enthusiastic Zalmi fans to Rawalpindi on Friday to watch their team in a showdown with Lahore Qalandars.
Lacking a home ground in Peshawar, Zalmi owner Javed Afridi provided for the home crowd the service to be part of the live action for every match the team plays at Rawalpindi stadium.

Zalmi fans are sitting in a bus, ready to depart from Peshawar to Rawalpindi ahead of their match against Lahore Qalandars on Feb. 28, 2020. (AN photo)

“It is a special incentive by Zalmi chairman Afridi to facilitate cricket fans. We have dedicated five buses with the capacity of 160 passengers each,” said Iftikharuddin Khattak, brand manager of Peshawar Zalmi. “We’re excited and hope to win the trophy,” he added.
However, he said that the fans have to pay Rs.2000 and would get return bus ticket to Peshawar with McDonald’s meal, a VIP match ticket and official Zalmi shirts. The fans will also get a chance to meet their favorite players while in Rawalpindi.
“It was my biggest wish to watch Peshawar Zalmi play live in the PSL match. I couldn’t travel all the way to Rawalpindi because I cannot afford it,” Khalid Anwar, a junior clerk at KP Health Department and an ardent Zalmi fan about to board the bus, told Arab News.
Abdul Wakil, a daily wage laborer and supporter of Zalmi team, said he was skipping work on Friday because he planned to travel to Rawalpindi to enjoy the rare sight of his favorite team playing live. 
Zalmi fans also enjoyed the team’s official instrumental anthem played in the buses by none other than leading bands Pukhtoon Core and Khumariyan.

Police in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have placed strict security measures to ensure PSL matches are conducted in a peaceful environment.
Security personnel have been deployed at the hotel accommodating players with a separate police unit dedicated to escort the teams to the stadium.