Life after Ronaldo: Real Madrid comes up short in Super Cup thriller

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Atletico started brightly — striker Diego Costa scoring after only one minute, the fastest-ever UEFA Super Cup goal — but Real bounced back with Karim Benezma equalizing after 27 minutes and Real captain Sergio Ramos taking the lead from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute after the referee adjudged Juanfran to have handled in the box.

Spanish international Costa — and Wednesday’s Man of the Match — hauled his side back into contention with just over 10 minutes to go, forcing extra time. Atletico took the initiative after the restart with Saúl Ñíguez scoring a expertly taken volley after 98 minutes, before Koke put the tie to bed with an almost identical shot to make the score 4-2.

“I’m very happy, not just with scoring … to help the side but when you play the important thing is the win,” Koke said after the match.

“Other than me scoring, or whoever scores, at the end of the day it’s a goal of the whole team and we don’t need to give my goal importance — rather the team’s victory.”

Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring his side's third goal.

The win sees the Super Cup — UEFA’s curtain raiser which pits the winners of the Champions League and Europa League in a one-off match — go to Atletico’s trophy case for the third year running, and halted Real’s quest for a record fifth trophy.

Atletico is the only team to have won its three first UEFA Super Cup appearances — and has always done it as Europa League winners rather than as the first-tier Champions League holders.

Bale: We’ll come back stronger

Real’s Welsh striker Gareth Bale said that mistakes cost his side the win, but that the team would learn from their errors and look to use the experience as motivation.

“We don’t like losing and because of that we’ll come back stronger,” he said.

Real captain Sergio Ramos and teammates look dejected following defeat.

Diego Simeone, the Rojiblanco’s combative coach, was in a celebratory mood but said he still rues the team’s 2014 loss against Real in the Champions League final. Real also beat Atletico in the 2016 final.

“Out of the five finals against Real Madrid — if I recall correctly — two were domestic, three continental. Of those five, we won three — we clearly didn’t beat them in the Champions League finals.

“We have our own style; that doesn’t change because of a result or the number of goals scored. Our style is built on structure, design and strategy. The 4-2 scoreline won’t change our style.”

Real’s new coach, Julen Lopetegui — who was fired from his job coaching the Spanish national side in favor of the Real post just before the start of the World Cup — rued “risky decisions” made by his team and said that while they played well, even into extra time, Atletico’s third goal “hurt us emotionally and that’s where we lost the game.”

Real opens its domestic campaign, where it will seek to unseat Liga champions Barcelona, against Getafe on Monday night; Atletico faces Valencia a day later. The city rivals will meet in the league at the end of September.

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