Sometimes it’s enough with the basics, even if you need to go looking for it on the very edge of the precipice. Real Madrid complicated a game that he had controlled after repeating one of the errors pointed out by Ancelotti, the crap in the starts. But there at the end, at the limit of penalties, they still had Thibaut Courtois, the enlightened goalkeeper from last year, the figure of the Champions League final against Liverpool, who in Riyadh led them to another final, in which they hope , bruised, decimated and tired, to the winner of today’s Betis-Barcelona. Valencia, who was touched, remained standing until that last penalty that Courtois saved Gayà, but his top was the Belgian, as for so many rivals.
They had to go to penalties, and that Ancelotti had already pointed out all the team’s problems after losing against Villarreal, particularly the defensive inconsistency. When he landed in Arabia he was still brooding over that restlessness. But his team entered the game as if that had taken hold. Militão and Rüdiger shot the line very high without too many shocks despite being surrounded by secondaries. Nacho occupied the left side and Lucas, the right. Ahead, Toni Kroos took care of the injured Tchouameni, and his own. Anchor of defense and helm of attack. A content and effective recital while he put up with the freshness.
Modric was not there either, who started on the bench, and Camavinga was, with outbursts of uncontrolled explosiveness, such as the two stomps that only earned him a yellow card, and that the Croatian replaced him after the break. But Madrid worked gregarious, with Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius and Benzema contributing to a collective exercise that drowned Valencia.
The ball barely lasted for Gattuso’s team, despite trying to spin in the center with Musah, Almeida and Lino. When they managed to threaten, they did so with flashes that sought the back of the defenders as soon as they recovered. Or with an advance by Gayà from his left side who found a good header that Courtois took down. That seemed to wake up Valencia, who in the next push saw Lato alone with the Belgian in the area. He cut Courtois, but lost his footing.
Valencia threatened like this, with pecks, or with a rehearsed free kick that Cavani finished off from point-blank range. Although the set was annulled for offside, Courtois, with inspiration shot, had blocked the attempt.
Ahead, Benzema also issued signs of recovering his prodigious version. He moved light on attack, and a little further back, distributing. Also in the area, where he wore dancer’s feet in one of those dribbling, spouting and shooting sequences.
Madrid approached in many ways, with Rodrygo, with Vinicius and with Valverde, often supported by the Frenchman’s short game. However, Benzema’s goal came through the most rudimentary play. Militão looked up as he was advancing from his area, spotted the Frenchman running at the other end of the field and sent him a pass of more than fifty meters with which he anticipated Cömert, who gave him a penalty.
Real controlled the duel based on that consistency longed for and recovered at the King Fahd stadium, but lost the advantage when it fell to the other evil pointed out by their coach. A few seconds after returning from intermission, Lato took advantage of Madrid’s drop in tension and put a cross into the area that hit the far post Lino, on loan from Atlético. It was just a blink, albeit too well known, and the whites lost the advantage, although they quickly got the ball back. But it was no longer the same.
They had lost electricity and Valencia had better located their site. They hardly suffered. The blows began to be taken by Real, who saw Lucas fall injured, when the studs of his right boot stuck in the grass and he put his hand to his knee in alarm. Next up was Militão, who dropped to the ground about twenty minutes after being hit on the head by a ball by Kluivert. He seemed disoriented.
Like Madrid at that time, who backed down and only woke up in added time, agitated by Valverde. There Vinicius was about to avoid extra time, but he met Mamardashvili. And he also ran into the Georgian goalkeeper at the start of extra time. But the worst situation saved him, again Courtois, in a prodigious one-on-one with Fran Pérez that allowed them to hold out until penalties, where the Belgian finished off his great night.
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