Defender Dani Carvajal was the hero as Real Madrid won the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in Trondheim tonight.
The right-back’s magnificent solo effort in the last few minutes of extra time was the difference against a Sevilla side that could not be faulted for effort, but clearly tired by the end.
Missing the attacking prowess of Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Real manager Zinedine Zidane trusted the young trio of Marco Asensio, Lucas Vázquez and Álvaro Morata to lead the line for the Champions League winners.
Indeed, it was 20-year-old Asensio, making his first competitive appearance for the club, who opened the scoring after 20 minutes with a fantastic effort from outside the box.
In truth, that was as good as it got for Real, pretty much until Ramos’ late equaliser. Sevilla successfully stifled them from there on out more the most part, with neither side looking particularly threatening.
Sevilla have adjust to some major departure departures this summer. Manager Unai Emery, captain Coke and the likes of Ever Banega and Grzegorz Krychowiak, important players for the club, have all left, and as such it is a major period of transition for new manager Jorge Sampaoli and his side.
However, they got their equaliser just before half time. Franco Vázquez, a €15m signing from Palermo earlier this summer, finished on the volley after good work from Vitolo to take the ball away from Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Mateo Kovacic.
The score, and indeed the game itself, remained even until the 72nd minute. Vitolo involved again, this time going down in the box under a challenge from Real’s Sergio Ramos. The Spanish international claimed the forward had dived, but the referee pointed to the spot.
Konoplyanka coolly, some might argue too coolly, slotted home the penalty to put Sampaoli’s side in front for the first time in the game.
Real Madrid pushed hard for an equliser after that. James Rodrírguez entered the fray, joining other heavyweights Benzema and Luka Modric, as the Champions League winners looked for a way back into the match.
Their persistence paid off in the last minute of injury time. Ramos had stayed forward as Real laid siege to the Sevilla goal, and was on hand to head home an open goal unmarked from a Lucas Vázquez cross to send the tie into extra time.
Sevilla suffered a major setback just three minutes into extra time when defender Timothée Kolodziejczak was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Lucas Váquez.
Ramos thought he had put Real back into the lead five minutes later with a diving header, only to see the goal disallowed for an alleged foul on Sevilla defender Adil Rami. Replays showed the decision was a harsh one, contact between Ramos and Rami appeared minimal at best.
Real Madrid looked the far more likely of the two to win the game in extra time. Karim Benzema saw a shot saved by Sergio Rico in the early stages of the second half, before a Lucas Vázquez effort was cleared off the line soon after. From a position of superiority earlier in the game, Sevilla were now on the ropes under the Real onslaught.
Enter Carval. The Spanish international picked the ball up from Konoplyanka near the half way line. Skipping past a number of defenders, Carvajal dribbled into the box before shooting past Sergio Rico with the outside of his foot.
That was to be the decider. Sevilla had nothing in response, and with almost the final kick of the game, Real Madrid won only their third UEFA Super Cup.