Barca reach Spanish Super Cup final after Ter Stegen penalty heroics

Marc-Andre ter Stegen's heroics ensured that Barcelona overtook Real Sociedad on penalties on Wednesday and reached the Spanish Super Cup final without the injured Lionel Messi.
Messi watched Ter Stegen do his best to fill the void in Cordoba. The goalkeeper was immense in both penalties and regular time, which ended 1-1.
Frenkie de Jong's header was canceled by a penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal, who missed one of two crucial saves from Ter Stegen on penalties before 21-year-old Riqui Puig scored the winner.
"I wasn't ready to take one, but we needed another customer and I stepped forward," said Puig.
Barca face Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final on Sunday, when Messi is expected to be available again despite full-time coach Ronald Koeman being careful.
"We have to wait," he said.
Koeman's team has a mountain to climb in the league's title race but they are improving, now unbeaten nine games and with a trophy under control.
This is the second year of the new format of the Spanish Super Cup, in which four teams play against each other in the semifinals and the final.
Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad joined the final of last season's Copa del Rey, which has yet to be played, while Barcelona finished second in La Liga in Madrid.
While last season's version was controversial in Saudi Arabia, the pandemic means this year's semi-finals will be in Cordoba and Malaga, and the final will be in Seville.
Barca were the better side in the first half but owed Ter Stegen not to concede early when Alexander Isak sped into the area only to see his goal saved by the goalkeeper.
It was De Jong's shot to the near post that scored the first goal. An Antoine Griezmann cross hung just long enough for the midfielder to get there first and score an excellent header.
But De Jong gave Real Sociedad a way back shortly after the break. The ball hit him in the hand and allowed Oyarzabal to level from the spot.
Barca almost immediately pulled forward when De Jong spun in the box, only to get an unnecessary extra touch. Ousmane Dembele shot just wide and Trincao, as a substitute, had a chance to win it before the 90 minutes were up.
Zaldua released in extra time, but Ter Stegen fell over. Dembele's goal was also saved while Adnan Januzaj shot wide at the end of a brilliant run and then hit the post with a free kick.
Into the shooting, and Jon Bautista's first attempt was parried by Ter Stegen just for De Jong to hit the post.
But Oyarzabal, who had previously hit the spot, missed this time, Ter Stegen again guessed correctly. Dembele scored before Willian Jose hit the post. Miralem Pjanic and Mikel Merino were under pressure.
Griezmann could have won it but rose before Januzaj converted to 2-2, leaving it up to Puig to win it for Barca, the youngster who slammed home for a place in the final.
ta / dj

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