Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Mandzukic hands Atletico Supercopa

HOME SWEET HOME:The victory ended Atletico’s 15-year wait for a home win against their city rivals and crushed Real’s dream of taking six trophies in a season

AFP, MADRID

Atletico Madrid’s Mario Mandzukic, left, reacts with teammate Antoine Griezmann after scoring against Real Madrid in the Supercopa second leg on Friday in Madrid.

Photo: AFP

Atletico Madrid gained some measure of revenge for their UEFA Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid by beating their city rivals 1-0 at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Friday to win the Supercopa 2-1 on aggregate.

The hosts made the best possible start when Mario Mandzukic volleyed home the winner from Antoine Griezmann’s pass after just 90 seconds.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti had initially left Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench due to the effects of a hamstring injury that had seen him withdrawn from the first leg.

However, even the Portuguese could not down Atletico’s typically well-organized defense as they held on to end los Blancos’ hopes of claiming six trophies this season.

“Between the end of last season and now Real Madrid has won three cups,” Ancelotti said. “I want to thank all the players and the club because I think we have done very well. In this game we didn’t play well, but I would rather this one than the [UEFA] Champions League final.”

As well as leaving Ronaldo on the bench, Ancelotti also fueled speculation over Angel di Maria’s future by excluding the Argentine from his squad entirely.

However, he said Di Maria’s absence had purely been for sporting reasons, saying: “Di Maria was a technical decision. I didn’t need him today.”

Atletico boss Diego Simeone was sent off midway through the first half for protesting that rightback Juanfran had not been allowed back onto the field quickly enough after receiving treatment for a facial injury.

The Argentine coach could be in for a severe ban for confronting the assistant referee and sarcastically applauding his decision.

However, he apologized afterward and admitted he had overreacted at the time.

“When you commit an error you have to ask for forgiveness and I accept it was an error,” Simeone said. “I exaggerated in trying to get Juanfran on.”

The victory was los Colchoneros’ first at home against Real in 15 years and continued Simeone’s amazing run since taking charge of the club just less than three years ago.

However, Simeone again downplayed expectations that Atletico can repeat their amazing La Liga title triumph of last season.

“When you play in a league that is so long against Real Madrid or Barcelona it is very difficult to compete, but in one or two games we have the capability to beat anybody,” he said.

Real were caught out by a flying start from Atletico as Raphael Varane’s misjudged header allowed French international teammate Griezmann to feed Mandzukic to score his first goal for Atletico since signing from Bayern Munich.

However, the visitors slowly grew into the game and Luka Modric was centimeters away from a spectacular equalizer when he volleyed just over from outside the area.

James Rodriguez then began to dictate the pace of the game and he was only denied a leveler by a spectacular save from Miguel Angel Moya, before the Colombian also directed a header just wide.

Rodriguez fed Gareth Bale inside the area, but the Welshman pulled his shot disappointingly wide.

However, it was Atletico who had the best chance to double their advantage before halftime as Raul Garcia inexplicably headed over Koke’s corner from point-blank range.

Ronaldo made his entrance at the break as he replaced the ineffective Toni Kroos.

Garcia came close again at the start of the second half, as he turned a Koke free-kick onto the underside of the bar and Iker Casillas reacted well to prevent Mandzukic forcing the ball home from close range.

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