Williams duo make Bilbao Leones of Arabia

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Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Atlético Madrid 2-1 in the Supercopa de España on Thursday. They will now face Real Madrid in the final as they look to defend the trophy they won last year.

Given Atlético’s underwhelming La Liga form that continued with a 2-2 draw at Villarreal on Sunday, the tournament’s Saudi Arabian setting provided the ‘Rojiblancos’ with the perfect opportunity to forget their domestic failings. Against Bilbao, they had the ball in the back of the net within 10 seconds via João Félix, but the Portugal international was in a clear offside position.

That was one of several chances Diego Simeone’s men had in the opening stages, with Ángel Correa and Félix once more going close, and they could even have had a penalty when Thomas Lemar was brought down in the penalty area. Bilbao did then begin to get a foothold in the clash, and a solid Jan Oblak save stopped Iñaki Williams from giving his side the lead. While Yannick Carrasco and Geoffrey Kondogbia tested Unai Simón with long-ranged efforts later on in the half, neither side could complain as the scores remained level at HT.

A sparse crowd in Riyadh gave the tie an atmosphere akin to a pre-season friendly, and perhaps that contributed to an overall lack of intensity from both outfits – the first 45 minutes produced the fewest shots (5) in any half of Supercopa de España football since 2016. Little changed immediately after the interval and, while Atlético did manage to break the deadlock, it hardly came in spectacular fashion. Félix’s header from Lemar’s corner around the hour mark lacked power, but it was well-placed enough to hit the post before bouncing onto Simón’s back and into the net.

‘Los Leones’’ response was almost immediate, but Oblak was on hand to stop Iñigo Martínez’s bullet header from close-range. That appeared to breathe new life into Marcelino’s side and, although Oblak was equal to a Williams drive, he was helpless to prevent Yeray Álvarez from rippling the back of the net following Iker Muniain’s corner.

Before long, Bilbao were in front, and the winner came via substitute Nico Williams, Iñaki’s brother. Another corner caused Atlético all kinds of problems, and the teenage sibling made no mistake as he stroked the ball into the bottom corner. Delight for the victors, of course, but Simeone will be livid with his side’s capitulation, and José Giménez’s late dismissal for a red card summed up a grim night for the Madrid-based team.

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