Atletico Madrid battled back to beat Barcelona 3-2 in the semifinals of the Spanish Supercopa in Saudi Arabia on Thursday night in a wildly entertaining match that featured five second-half goals.
Both teams fielded full-strength sides for the chance to play Real Madrid, who beat Valencia on Wednesday in the other semi, in the final of the first-ever four-team Super Cup competition.
Barcelona had by far the better of the opening 45 minutes, but were held scoreless by Atleti in the first half despite spending plenty of time in their opponent’s penalty area.
Tempers flared as the teams went to the dressing room tied 0-0, with Luis Suarez handed a yellow card for confronting Atleti’s Joao Felix and Stefan Savic also booked for coming to his teammate’s defence.
Diego Simeone brought Koke on at half-time for Hector Herrera and seconds after the restart the Spain international had Atleti in front, slotting past Neto in the Barca net from a clever Angel Correa assist.
Barcelona hit right back through Lionel Messi, though, as the team’s talisman bulldozed his way into the Atleti box and lashed home a shot past Jan Oblak to even the score minutes into the second half.
“It was a very strange game, it was very hot and it was very tough for us but luckily we were able to turn things around and win,” Correa said.
“We got the victory because we had faith, we were always looking to win the game, we did that and we’re very happy.”
Messi produced more magic just before the hour mark, with another lovely goal ruled out after VAR showed the ball had bounced off the Barca No. 10’s upper arm before he shot.
The La Liga leaders had another goal ruled out by VAR later in the second half, this time for a marginal offside on Arturo Vidal when he squared to Gerard Pique for what looked like Barcelona’s third goal of the match.
The wide-open second half raged on and Vitolo, who had only just come off the bench, drew a penalty from Neto for tripping in the area and Alvaro Morata calmly stepped up and sent the Barca keeper the wrong way to get Atleti back on level terms.
Atleti, who hadn’t beaten Barca since 2016, were denied a clear penalty for handball on Pique shortly after their equaliser, but they’d take the lead in the 86th minute when Correa got in behind the Barca defence and beat Neto to hand his team the win.
Griezmann rued his side’s late collapse and put it down to Atletico’s superior energy levels.
“We lost the game due to our errors and in the end they had more energy in their legs while we struggled,” he said.
“We made a couple of bad passes and I gave the ball away for their last goal. It’s the little things like that which can lead to you losing a game or a title.”
The result sets up a Madrid derby at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, with Real and Atleti taking the field in the Supercopa final on Sunday (stream live at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3/Deportes).