FC Barcelona keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen was the hero as his side sneaked into the final of the Spanish Super Cup after beating Real Sociedad on penalties on Wednesday night.
With the score 1-1 after 120 minutes, Ter Stegen saved penalties from Jon Bautista and Mikel Oyarzabal and then won the mind game with Willian Jose, who hit his penalty against the post as Barca crept through 3-2.
Without the injured Lionel Messi, Barca lacked cohesion and were lucky to arrive at the shootout at all after Adnan Januzaj’s free-kick bounced off the woodwork late in extra-time.
The first half saw Real Sociedad mix up their game, alternately pressing high up the field and being content to sit deep and use their pace on the break.
Alexander Isak twice went close with a header just over the bar and another effort well blocked by Ter Stegen in his side’s best chance of the half, before Barca began to take more control.
Martin Braithwaite did well to control before firing at Alex Remiro before playing a major role in De Jong’s opener.
The striker held the ball up before feeding it to Antoine Griezmann whose cross was well met by the midfielder, who nodded past Remiro in the 39th minute.
De Jong then turned from hero to villain when his handball in the 51st minute allowed Oyarzabal to level from the penalty spot and the remaining period of normal time saw few chances.
Both Griezmann and Januzaj went close to winning the game in the extra 30 minutes, but Alex Remiro held firm, while Ter Stegen’s reflexes in the shootout saved Barca.
The second semifinal between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao will be played in Malaga on Thursday night. The final will be in Seville on Sunday. Enditem