Athletic win the Super Cup

Athletic Club sensationally beat Barcelona 3-2 after extra time to win the Supercopa de España final and capture their first trophy in over five years and only their second since their glorious double-winning season of 1983-84.

Having despatched Real Madrid 2-1 in the semi-final in Malaga on Thursday night thanks to a brace of goals from Raúl García, Athletic went up against the Catalans in Sunday night’s final in Seville.

It was an exciting contest with a dramatic finale as Athletic fought back to snatch a historic victory from the jaws of defeat. Barça had drawn first blood, when Griezmann opened the scoring in the 40th minute but athletic struck back almost immediately through Oscar de Marcos to level the scores at half-time.

Griezmann thought he had won the game for Barcelona when he netted his second of the match in the 77th minute but substitute Asier Villalibre had other ideas. He latched onto Iker Muniain’s free-kick in the final minute of normal time to force an additional half hour.

Extra time was only three minutes old when Iñaki Williams scored a wonder goal from the edge of the box, crashing the ball in off the far post to put Athletic ahead for the first time in the match and they resolutely hung into that lead until the final whistle to lift the trophy. Frustration got the better of Barça star Lionel Messi, who was sent off in the dying seconds of the encounter for violent conduct – his first red card for Barcelona.

It was the second time the Supercopa de España had been staged as a January mini-tournament between the two cup finalists and the La Liga winners and runners-up from the previous season. Bizarrely, due to the pandemic, last season’s Copa del Rey final has not yet taken place. The rescheduled match is now due to take place on the 4th of April 2021 between Athletic Club and Real Sociedad.

The Supercopa was a two-legged affair between the league champions and cup winners from 1982 to 2017 and switched to a single match format for 2018 before the first mini-tournament version was held in Saudi Arabia last year. Athletic’s previous victory was also against Barcelona when, as Copa del Rey runners up, they beat the double winners 5-1 over two legs (4-0, 1-1). Technically the title was also awarded to Athletic in 1984 after they won the league and cup double.

The victory represents a dream start for new Athletic Club manager Marcelino García Toral, who only took the reins on the 4th of January. His first three matches in charge couldn’t have been tougher, having been against Barcelona, Real Madrid and then Barcelona again. After narrowly losing 3-2 at home to Barça in the league, these successive Super Cup victories over the two behemoths of Spanish football augur well for the future. The midweek Copa del Rey tie against Ibiza of the Segunda B division should be an easier affair.