A Raul Garcia brace sent Real Madrid crashing out of the 2020/21 Supercopa de Espana with a 2-1 semi-final defeat to Athletic Club on Thursday night at the Estadio La Rosaleda in Malaga.
A month after earning an early red card against Los Blancos in league action, Raul Garcia got his revenge with a pair of first half goals. A Karim Benzema score made for a nervy finish, but in the end the Basque side hung on to punch their ticket to the final, where they will face Barcelona.
Zinedine Zidane went with the same starting XI that played to a scoreless draw at Osasuna over the weekend, with Eden Hazard getting another chance up top, while Lucas Vazquez was once again back in for Dani Carvajal at right-back.
It was some careless playing from Real Madrid in their own half that led to the opener for Athletic, as an ill-advised pass from Lucas Vazquez was intercepted by Dani Garcia, who filtered a ball into Raul Garcia and the finish from the former Atletico man was to perfection to give his side the lead.
Lucas Vazquez's already difficult night got worse later on when he allowed a ball to sail over his head and then promptly wrestled Inigo Martinez down in the penalty area, resulting in a penalty. Raul Garcia stepped up and hammered the spot kick into net for his second of the night, giving the Basques a 2-0 advantage.
Zidane made his first change during the break, as the injured Raphael Varane made way for Nacho, and Iker Muniain almost made it three for Athletic when his header went just wide of goal.
Real Madrid needed some sort of spark and they got Athletic's attention when Eden Hazard cut a pass back to Marco Asensio, whose shot rocketed off the post.
Zidane went back to his bench midway through the half, bringing on Vinicius and Fede Valverde for Hazard and Luka Modric, respectively.
Asensio was trying his best to inject life into his side and he would be denied by the woodwork for a second time when his left-footed shot from distance left the crossbar quivering.
Real Madrid's comeback effort got a big boost with a little more than a quarter-hour remaining when Benzema turned in a shot off a Casemiro header. Initially it was ruled offside by the linesman, but VAR showed that the Frenchman was onside and the decision was changed to a goal and a 2-1 scoreline.
Moments after coming as a substitute, Asier Villalibre was played in and had just Thibaut Courtois to beat, but could not find a way past the big Belgian, leaving Los Blancos with life.
The final minutes saw Real Madrid throw all numbers forward in search of an equaliser, with Mariano providing fresh legs in place of Benzema. Habitual last-minute hero Sergio Ramos surged forward, but was never able to find the target with one of his trademark dramatic headers, leaving Real Madrid with shoulders slumped in frustration at the sound of the final whistle.
1.- Real Madrid: Courtois; Lucas Vazquez, Varane (Nacho, min. 46), Ramos, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric (Fede Valverde, min. 68); Hazard (Vinicius, min. 67), Asensio, Benzema (Mariano, min. 88).
2.- Athletic Club: Unai Simon; Capa (Lekue, min. 68), Nunez, Inigo Martinez, Balenziaga (Morcillo, min. 79); De Marcos, Dani Garcia, Vencedor (Vesga, min. 68), Muniain (Berenguer, min. 71); Raul Garcia (Villalibre, min. 79), Williams.
Goals: 0-1, min. 18: Raul Garcia; 0-2, min. 38: Raul Garcia (p); 1-2, min. 74: Benzema
Referee: Martinez Munuera (Valencian).
Yellow cards: Lucas Vazquez (Min. 37) for Real Madrid, Capa (Min. 56) for Athletic, Kroos (Min. 83) for Real Madrid, Dani Garcia (Min. 84) for Athletic, Unai Simon (Min. 89) for Athletic
Red cards: None
Stadium: La Rosaleda
Source: Marca / Arch Bell