Spanish Super Cup: Athletic Bilbao knocks out holder Real Madrid

Raul Garcia scored twice as Athletic Bilbao beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday.

Athletic Bilbao players celebrate after beating Real Madrid in the Super Copa semifinals.   -  Getty Images

Athletic Bilbao forward Raul Garcia scored twice in a 2-1 win over Real Madrid on Thursday to knock the holder out of the Spanish Super Cup and set up a final against Barcelona.

Garcia, who was sent off early on during a 3-1 defeat by Real last month, got Athletic off to an ideal start when he pounced on indecision in the Real defence to latch on to a through ball and slot into in the 18th minute.

Garcia went close to adding a second before doubling the lead by sending Real keeper Thibaut Courtois the wrong way to score from the penalty spot in the 38th minute, after Lucas Vazquez had hauled down Inigo Martinez.

Iker Muniain should have added a third for Athletic early in the second half but missed the target with a free header, while Real's Marco Asensio hit the post and the crossbar before Karim Benzema pulled a goal back for Real in the 73rd minute.

The Frenchman's strike had initially been ruled offside but was awarded after a VAR review.

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Benzema put the ball in the net again soon after and was again given offside but this time the VAR ruled against him.

Real continued to look for an equaliser deep into six minutes of added time and Athletic faced an agonising wait for a VAR check to be completed on a potential Real penalty but it was spared and wildly celebrated the win when the whistle came.

Athletic meets Barca on Sunday in the final in Seville in a repeat of the 2015 edition of the competition, which the Basques won 5-1 on aggregate.

The Catalans overcame Real Sociedad 3-2 in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's first semi and beat Athletic 3-2 last week in La Liga.

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Real had been in Malaga since Monday after heading straight there from Pamplona following its 0-0 draw with Osasuna, which was overshadowed by its arduous journey to the match due to the snowstorm that paralysed large parts of Spain.

Hazard gets Zidane's backing

Zidane picked the same starting 11 as against Osasuna and again his side failed to sparkle, with Eden Hazard continuing to lack sharpness in attack.

The Belgian, Real's record signing, has only scored two goals in all competitions this season and offered little in attack after failing to create much danger in last Saturday's 0-0 draw at Osasuna.

"He needs to recover confidence, play a great game or score a goal, just to do something different. We know what a great player he is and we need to be patient with him as he is working hard," Zidane told reporters.

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"We are behind him and we must give him time. The fans want to see the best version of Eden so we must be patient. We're sticking with him and he really wants to step up. But today it wasn't just Eden, we're all in this together."

"Today we struggled in the first half, we improved in the second but it wasn't enough," added Zidane.

"We were not able to read the game well. They pressed us very well and we lost the ball a lot, which was unusual for us.

"We know there'll be a lot of external noise after this but we'll just focus on keep working hard."

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