SPANISH SUPER CUP
Athletic see off Atlético to seal Super Cup final place
Defending champions Athletic Club will face Real Madrid in the final of the Spanish Super Cup after beating Atlético Madrid 2-1 on Thursday.
Athletic Club substitute Nico Williams struck late in the second half to give the Spanish Super Cup holders a 1-2 win over Atlético Madrid in Thursday's semi-final in Riyah. It means that both last season's LaLiga champions and Copa del Rey winners bow out of the tournament.
The Basques, who had to come from behind to defeat Simeone's side, set up a showpiece clash on Sunday against Real Madrid, who beat Barcelona 2-3 on Wednesday. After a slow-paced first period in Riyadh's half-empty King Fahd stadium the teams woke up when Atlético took the lead from a set-piece. João Felix met Thomas Lemar's corner but his header bounced back off the post, the ball struck fully-stretchedf keeper Unai Simon on his back before bobbling over the line.
Athletic equalised with another header from a corner - Yeray Álvarez nodding past Oblak from close range in the 77th minute. Buoyed by that, they then piled the pressure on Atlético. Oblak was forced to made three superb saves to keep Atleti in it but he could not keep out Nico Williams' low shot through a packed area nine minutes from time. Atlético defender José María Giménez was sent off in stoppage time for a high challenge on Iñigo Martínez.
Dream goal for Nico Williams
"I've dreamed of this moment with my brother many times," Williams, the younger brother of Athletic striker Iñaki, told reporters. "Their goal was a tough blow for us, but we are a very resilient side and we know how to bounce back. We are prepared for any challenge and now we'll face a tough opponent in Real Madrid. We will be going for it on Sunday - let's hope we win another Super Cup."
Fourth in the LaLiga standings, 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid, Atlético are in a slump and pressure is mounting on their manager Diego Simeone. "We did not defend well, we have to work and get better. There are some things that you just can't hide and of course I am annoyed to have concede two goals to set-pieces. We can't defend high balls and that reduces the possibility of being able to win matches and be higher up in the table," Simeone told reporters after the game. "We believe in the work we do. We seek to improve. We have to improve... we are lacking the necessary aggressiveness."
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