Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen stopped two penalty kicks to give Barcelona a 3-2 penalty shootout victory over Real Sociedad after a 1-1 draw in the semi finals of the 2020/21 Supercopa de Espana on Wednesday night at the Estadio Nuevo Arcangel in Cordoba.
Playing without superstar Lionel Messi, Barcelona took a 1-0 lead through Frenkie de Jong in the first half, only to see Real Sociedad answer in the second half via a Mikel Oyarzabal penalty conversion.
A 1-1 draw after the 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time resulted in penalties, in which the Catalans emerged victorious thanks to the heroics of their German shot-stopper.
Barcelona are through to the final where they will await the winner of Thursday's semi between Real Madrid and Athletic Club.
With Messi out, Martin Braithwaite was selected by manager Ronald Koeman to lead the forward line, along with Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele. Meanwhile, in defence, Sergino Dest was relegated to the bench and replaced by Oscar Mingueza.
Real Sociedad came out the stronger of the two sides, and an Alexander Isak shot on goal forced Ter Stegen into an early stop.
Barcelona soon enough exerted their control, but for a while were hardly troubling Alex Remiro in the Real Sociedad goal until toward the end of the half. Braithwaite filtered a pass to Griezmann on the left and the cross from the Frenchman was set up perfectly for De Jong, who eluded Robin Le Normand and spun a header into goal for a 1-0 Barcelona lead.
Real Sociedad looked to get back into it to start the second stanza and they were greatly helped when an Oyarzabal cross struck the hand of De Jong just inside the area, resulting in a penalty. Oyarzabal handled penalty duties himself and coolly fired in past Ter Stegen to bring the Basques level, 1-1.
Both sides were keen to avoid extra time and face the prospect of playing an additional 30 minutes, but no goals could be found in the final 40 minutes.
To begin the extra period, Sergio Busquets made way for the supposedly out of favour Puig, while Miralem Pjanic came on for Pedri. Zaldua was one of the changes for La Real and he almost gave his side the lead with a stinging right-footer that Ter Stegen had to soar to palm away to safety.
At the other end, a giveaway led to Barcelona's first chance in extra time off the foot of Dembele, who took a pass from Griezmann and promptly fired right into the arms of Remiro.
Things opened up in the second period of extra time, beginning with a Griezmann chance that was blocked by Remiro and the resulting counter-attack had the Barcelona defence scrambling before Ter Stegen cleared the ball out for a corner kick. The introduction of Adnan Januzaj gave La Real a late spark and minutes after he rolled a shot wide of the far post, the Belgian hammered a freekick that smacked the post via the fingertips of the German.
Matters had to be settled from the spot and Ter Stegen came up big by blocking attempts from Jon Bautista and Oyarzabal. Puig was tasked as Barcelona's fifth penalty taker and calmly slotted home the decisive penalty to send his side to the final.
1.- Real Sociedad: Remiro; Gorosabel (Zaldua, min. 91) (Bautista, min. 120), Zubeldia, Le Normand, Monreal; Guridi (Barrenetxea, min. 81), Merino, Guevara (Zubimendi, min. 105); Oyarzabal, Portu (Januzaj, min. 103), Isak (Willian Jose, min. 91).
1.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza (Junior Firpo, min. 114), Araujo, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Pedri (Pjanic, min. 91), Busquets (Riqui Puig, min. 91), De Jong; Griezmann, Braithwaite (Trincao, min. 78), Dembele
Goals: 0-1, min. 39: De Jong; 1-1, min. 51: Oyarzabal (p)
Referee: Munuera Montero (Andalusian). Cards: Dembele (Min. 54) for Barcelona, Le Normand (Min. 58) for Real Sociedad, Mingueza (Min. 97) for Barcelona
Red cards: None
Stadium: Nuevo Arcangel
Source: Marca / Arch Bell