RIYADH - Athletic Bilbao substitute Nico Williams struck late in the second half to give the Spanish Super Cup holders a 2-1 come-from-behind win over LaLiga champions Atlético Madrid in Thursday's semifinal.
Bilbao set up a showpiece clash on Sunday against Real Madrid, who beat Barcelona 3-2 on Wednesday.
After a slow-paced first period in Riyadh's half-empty King Fahd stadium the teams woke up when Atlético went ahead just past the hour with an own goal by Bilbao keeper Unai Simon. Thomas Lemar's corner from the right was met by the head of João Félix whose effort struck the post, only for the ball to hit the back of the diving Simon and cross the line.
João Félix with the lucky bounce to put Atleti up in the Spanish Supercup! pic.twitter.com/5fXbe2obJd— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) January 13, 2022
Bilbao equalized with another header from a corner as Yeray Álvarez found the net from close range in the 77th minute.
They then piled the pressure on Atlético, whose goalkeeper Jan Oblak made three excellent saves. But even the outstanding Oblak could not keep out Williams's low shot from a rebound on the edge of the area that went in off the post nine minutes from time.
NICO WILLIAMS TURNS THE GAME ON ITS HEAD!ATLETI 1-2 BILBAO pic.twitter.com/6TyALjSjv4
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 13, 2022
Atlético defender José María Giménez was sent off in stoppage time for a strong challenge on Iñigo Martínez.
This foul by Giménez pic.twitter.com/keMw3AYA3n— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 13, 2022
"I have dreamed of this moment with my brother many times," Williams, young brother of Athletic striker Iñaki, told reporters. "Their goal was a hard blow, but we are as tough as nails and we know how to bounce back. We are prepared for any challenge and now we'll face a tough opponent in Real Madrid. We go all-in and let's hope we win another Super Cup."
Athletic Club pulls off the comeback and will play Real Madrid in the final this Sunday pic.twitter.com/mRCAAjHWop— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 13, 2022
Fourth in the LaLiga standings, 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid, Atlético are in a slump and pressure is mounting on their manager Diego Simeone.
"We did not defend well, we have to work and get better," Simeone told a news conference. "We believe in the work we do. We seek to improve. We have to improve... we are lacking the necessary aggressiveness."
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond)