Yunus Musah and Valencia’s trip to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa de España was a short albeit exhausting one, as they were knocked out by Real Madrid in a penalty shoot-out after playing toe-to-toe with the reigning Spanish champions.
Real Madrid 1 – 1 Valencia (pen. 4-3)
Musah continued his role as a consistent starter in head coach Gennaro Gattuso’s midfield, however this time was used as one of two central players alongside André Almeida in a four-man line.
The American played all of regulation and the first five of overtime, before departing the field. Overall he had a solid, if not unflashy outing in the midfield, with 58 touches, a 92% completion rate on his 49 pass attempts, one chance created, two interceptions, three recoveries and a whopping five fouls committed.
Predictably, Madrid were the aggressors early on, with Rodrygo coming close in the tenth minute, then Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde coming close in rapid succession around the 15-minute mark.
A clumsy tackle by Eray Cömert at the 37-minute mark as he made a mess of his lunging tackle of Benzema in the area forced the referee to point to the spot with little argument from the Valencia team.
The 2022 Ballon D’Or winner struck low and to the right, sending Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili diving in the other direction for the 1-0 lead.
Whatever words Gattuso had with his team in the locker room during the halftime break must have struck home, as they pulled even within 23 seconds of the restart. The team coolly advanced into Madrid territory from the opening kickoff, with their seeming lack of urgency fooling their opponents into a lax defensive effort.
Toni Lato recognized the opening and capitalized, launching a long cross from the far right side towards the opposite edge of the six-yard box, where Dias Lino stormed in to put away his one-timed shot, leaving the Madrid players in shock.
The game remained a stalemate until the end of regulation, although Madrid did have a slightly more dominant overall run of play, and outshot Valencia by a 16-12 margin.
Five minutes into the first overtime period, Gattuso used his final two subs to pull Musah and the ailing Lato in favor of Dimitri Foulquier and former Barcelona creative midfielder Ilaix Moriba.
This did little to alter either teams’ fortunes, and the game headed to the inevitable and dreaded penalty shootout.
In the end, Cömert sent his attempt sky-high, while and José Gayà saw his attempt – Valencia’s fifth – down the middle saved by Thibaut Courtois. In contrast, the Madrid players were successful on all of their attempts to take the victory.
With Barcelona also winning their semifinal over Real Betis on Thursday also in a shoot-out, the two Spanish giants will face off in Sunday’s final. Musah and the rest of the Valencia squad have a week off to recover from the travel, before visiting Sporting Gijon on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey.
They return to league action on Monday, January 23 when they host Almeria.