Full-time: Real Madrid 1-1 Valencia (after extra-time, Real Madrid win 4-3 on penalties)
They’ve done it the hard way but they’ve done it! Real Madrid are through to Sunday’s final!
Real Madrid, eh? They just always find a way to get the job done. Last week they toiled badly to a narrow victory in the Copa del Rey against fourth-tier Cacereño (remember them?). Now, they’ve scraped past a Valencia side who have really struggled either side of the World Cup break but impressed in this game.
In the opening 20 minutes or so, it looked as if they might be in for a relatively straightforward 90 minutes. Rodrygo, Benzema and Valverde all went close but Valencia stormed back into the contest and unsettled Madrid with their high pressing, which allowed them to get more than a foothold in the match. But their high defensive line looked as if it might be their undoing and so it proved, with Militão picking out the run of Benzema, who was felled in the box and converted from the spot to give Carlo Ancelotti’s men the lead.
Losing a goal so close to half-time could’ve knocked the stuffing out of Valencia but they struck back less than 30 seconds into the second period, with Samuel Lino diverting Toni Lato’s cross in at the back post. A raft of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game after the hour-mark, which worked in Real Madrid’s favour as Rino Gattuso’s side looked comfortable, without ever troubling Thibaut Courtois.
A late flurry from Real Madrid suggested they were the fresher going into extra-time but the game to and froed in the last 30 minutes, with Courtois and Giorgi Mamardashvili forced to intervene, spectacularly on a couple of occasions.
There was to be no further scoring and it was Real Madrid who held their nerve in the shootout, as if there was any doubt. The mental strength they continue to show, and the different ways they find to win games in which they’re not at their best, means it’s no fluke when they do.
They’ll face either Real Betis or Barcelona in the final on Sunday.
Read More: Real Madrid vs Valencia summary: Madrid win on penalties, score, goals and 2023-01-12 00:33:36