Atletico Madrid claims Spanish Super Cup

Updated 23 August 2014

Atletico Madrid claims Spanish Super Cup

MADRID: A 2nd-minute goal by striker Mario Mandzukic gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Friday and overall victory with a 2-1 aggregate score.
The first match was a 1-1 draw.
A long kick by Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Moya was headed skywards by Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Atletico’s midfielder Antoine Griezmann then directed the ball toward newly-signed striker Mandzukic, who beat goalkeeper Iker Casillas with a powerful shot.
Atletico had already begun strongly with two fast-paced attacks in the first minute.
Madrid’s new signing James Rodriguez began the match on the left wing with Cristiano Ronaldo rested on the bench alongside new goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
It was not until the 25th minute that Madrid threatened Moya’s goal with a shot by Rodriguez.
The Super Cup is a two-legged match-up played before the Primera Liga season starts between the champions of the previous Liga — Atletico this year — and the winner of previous season’s Copa del Rey — Madrid.
The last time Atletico won the Super Cup was 29 years ago.
“To have won this match against a rival as important as Real Madrid gives us energy to focus on what will follow,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, whose team lost to Madrid 4-1 in the Champions League final in May.
Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira were not included in the squad by Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian coach had previously said Di Maria had rejected Madrid’s offer for an extension and was hence looking to transfer to another club, with Manchester United reportedly keen on the Argentine winger.
France winger Griezmann hit a long shot in the 15th minute that was deflected for a corner, a move that led to a period of pressure on Madrid’s goal.
With Atletico defender Juan “Juanfran” Torres off the field receiving treatment for a cut lip that had stained his jersey with blood, Madrid launched a rapid attack that ended when Moya saved Rodriguez’s 25th minute shot.
Shortly afterward, the referee ejected Simeone for dissent after the Atletico coach had vociferously called for Torres’ rapid reincorporation onto the field because his treatment had finished.
Madrid tried to keep the pressure up and Rodriguez headed just wide of the post in the 36th, and two minutes later Gareth Bale shot just wide from a pass supplied by the Colombia forward.
“We lost control of the match trying to play too many long balls without enough possession,” said Ancelotti. “The second half was more complicated, we gave Atletico more chances to defend just as they wanted to.”
Raul Garcia hit a long shot in the 44th that forced a save from Casillas. A minute later Garcia narrowly missed with a header from a corner kick just before Rodriguez countered with his third attempt on goal.
Ronaldo came on in the second half but Atletico maintained the pressure and Garcia came close to scoring the second when his 48th-minute shot was tipped by Casillas onto the frame of the goal.
Madrid threaded a skillful passing attack past Atletico’s midfield in the 61st, but it ended with Moya saving Ronaldo’s shot.
With Simeone pacing in the stands, Ronaldo hit a free kick into the defenders’ wall in the 68th.
This was followed by another period of pressure from Atletico that saw two shots go just wide in three minutes.
Midfielder Luka Modric was ejected on a second yellow card in stoppage time and teammate Sergio Ramos just missed a header that could have led to extra time.


The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

Updated 28 min 27 sec ago

The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

LeBron James believed he could win every time he advanced to the NBA Finals.
A couple occasions, he realistically had little chance. His first and last appearances in Cleveland ended in sweeps, overmatched Cavaliers teams routed by San Antonio in 2007 and Golden State in 2018.
In his 10th NBA Finals, he sees his first opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers the same way he viewed his trips in Cleveland and Miami.
“The game is won between the four lines, not won on paper,” James said. “At the end of the day, when I’ve lost in the finals, the better team won because they played well, they were more prepared and they did what they needed to do to win those four games.”
This time, that’s going to be his team.
With Anthony Davis alongside James, the Lakers are armed with the same type of firepower they had when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led them to the first of three straight titles 20 years ago.
The two first-team selections to the All-NBA team have combined for 60 or more points 20 times in their first season together, and the Lakers have won 19.
They are now set up to win the Lakers’ first title in a decade.
“Now we want to make sure that we finish this thing off right,” Davis said.
James shows almost no drop-off at 35, tying his career high with four triple-doubles in these playoffs. He is averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists, numbers no player has ever reached through his first 15 games of a postseason.
Davis has been just as dominant, right about at his career postseason average of 29.6 points that trails only Michael Jordan (33.4) and Allen Iverson (29.7) among players who have appeared in at least 25 games.
The Heat, with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler anchoring a strong defense, might be able to take one of them away. Nobody is stopping both.
The Lakers’ role players give them plenty of support, from playoff-tested veterans Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Danny Green, to newcomers such as Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. Los Angeles is shooting 49.8% as a team, tops in the postseason.
The Lakers are also limiting teams to 106.5 points, third-lowest in the playoffs, and the Heat might be the least explosive squad they will have faced. Portland had Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Houston followed with NBA scoring leader James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and Denver boasted Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the top two players in total points in the playoffs.
Los Angeles knocked all three teams out in five games.
Once they did, thoughts turned to the proper way to cap off what’s been a challenging season for the Lakers. A preseason trip to China turned turbulent following Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting democratic protesters in Hong Kong. Bryant, a franchise icon, was killed in a helicopter crash in January. The coronavirus pandemic halted the season and forced players to be away from their families for months when it resumed.
Four more wins and the Lakers can go home to them.
“Every day since we been in the bubble it’s been like, man, this is a great opportunity. Take full advantage of it and stay in the moment,” Howard said. “You know, even after we won the Western Conference finals, I wanted to be like, all right, this is not the goal just to win the Western Conference finals. The goal is the win the championship.”
They will. Lakers in five.
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Brian Mahoney is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at bmahoney(at)ap.org