Real Madrid red card led to Supercopa win, says Atletico's Simeone
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Diego Simeone said Fede Valverde's last-man challenge on Alvaro Morata won Real Madrid Sunday's Spanish Supercopa as Atletico Madrid were beaten by their local rivals on penalties in Saudi Arabia.
Valverde took out Morata in the final stages of extra time when the Atletico striker was racing clean through on goal. The Uruguayan midfielder was sent off and Kieran Trippier sent the resulting free kick into the wall as the game ended goalless after 120 minutes.
Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey missed their penalties to set up Sergio Ramos to score the winning spot kick as Madrid won the Supercopa for the 11th time in history.
"It was the most important moment of the game," Simeone said in his postmatch news conference. "I told him [when he was sent off] that anyone would have done the same in his place."
Valverde, 21, had an otherwise exceptional night as Zinedine Zidane made it 10 trophies as Madrid boss, including nine wins in nine cup finals. His performance earned him the Man of the Match award.
"I think it makes sense to give him the award because he won the game with that challenge," Simeone added.
Despite the support from the Atletico boss, though, Valverde said he felt bad about the nature of his challenge, even if it helped Madrid win the game.
"I've apologised to Morata," Valverde said in a news conference. "It's not good to do what I did, but I didn't have any other option. I'm happy to win the trophy, but I'm left feeling bad about that."
Madrid coach Zidane said: "At the end of the day, he did what he had to do. It's a bad foul, but he had to make it at that moment. He did well. What's important is that he's apologised to Morata because they know each other well."
This was the first trophy Madrid have won since Zidane returned to the club last March. Nine of them have come in cup competitions -- the other being a La Liga title -- and the French coach has never lost a final across his two spells in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"I don't know, it's just this club," he said when asked for the secret to the success. "We always want to win, although this one wasn't easy. We had to have patience.
"At half-time, we were a little annoyed because we didn't know how we could score. We were up against a good team. You have to believe until the end and that's what we've done."
In previous years, neither Madrid nor Atletico would have been in the Supercopa, but a revamped format and an expansion to four teams meant they were both invited to the competition in Saudi Arabia, where it will also be played in 2021 and 2022 as part of a three-year deal worth €120 million.
Copa del Rey winners Valencia lost to Madrid in the first semifinal, with Atletico setting up an all-Madrid final by beating La Liga champions Barcelona in the other.