The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

Martínez heads Bayern past Sevilla to win Super Cup

Associated Press Friday, 25 September 2020, 06:29 Last update: about 26 days ago

Javi Martínez is Bayern Munich's Mr. Super Cup.

Seven years after scoring an extra-time goal to help Bayern win its last UEFA Super Cup, Martínez netted the winner in the 104th minute Thursday as the German club beat Sevilla 2-1 in the European curtain raiser in a stadium partially filled with fans.

Martínez rose above a crowd of players to head in the rebound when Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou parried David Alaba's speculative shot.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bayern midfielder Thomas Müller hailed Martínez as “Mr. Super Cup,” recalling the 2013 goal which sent a game against Chelsea to a penalty shootout which Bayern won.

It could be one of Martínez's last games for Bayern after eight years and eight German league titles. Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told German media last month that the versatile defensive player was seeking to leave.

“When i play in a Bayern shirt I want to give everything, 100%, and I showed that today," Martínez told broadcaster Sky, leaving a question about his future open. "I just want to celebrate today with my colleagues, the whole team. Not so much because we have another game on Sunday (in the German league). Obviously if I am there on Sunday I will give everything.”

Playing extra time was far from ideal for either team in a season which has started later than normal and will have a more congested calendar amid the coronavirus pandemic. For both Bayern and Sevilla it was the start of a run of four games in 11 days and came barely a month after Bayern beat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League final.

Europa League champion Sevilla took an early lead when David Alaba fouled Ivan Rakitic and Lucas Ocampos converted the 13th-minute penalty. Champions League winner Bayern leveled when Leon Goretzka hammered in a ball expertly cued up for him by Robert Lewandowski in the 34th.

Bayern was largely in control of the second half but saw two goals ruled out — one for offside, one for a shove by Lewandowski — and needed Neuer to save Youssef En-Nesyri's shot on the counterattack in the 87th minute.

The game was played with around 15,000 supporters in the Puskas Arena, around a quarter of capacity, as UEFA trialed a partial return of fans in time for the Champions League and Europa League group stages.

However, the recent rise in coronavirus cases across Europe — and Budapest in particular — made it a controversial move.

Around 800 out of the 2,100 tickets sold to Bayern fans were returned ahead of the game after politicians in the state of Bavaria warned fans against going to Budapest. Sevilla distributed around 500 tickets, meaning the vast majority of people in the stadium were Hungarian locals.

Social distancing rules were largely followed at the Puskas Arena, with fans mostly sitting in ones and twos with empty seats in between. However, traveling Bayern fans pushed to the front of their sector to watch the trophy presentation and stood shoulder to shoulder when the team came to celebrate in front of their stand. Only a few wore masks, which UEFA had said were obligatory “when social distancing cannot be respected.”

The international travel for Bayern and Sevilla fans also made the Super Cup an outlier. The main European leagues that have resumed with supporters, such as Germany and France, have restricted games to home fans so as not to encourage long-distance travel during the pandemic.

Bayern lifted a fourth trophy in three months after the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League, even if it was a largely symbolic prize. Sevilla has played four Super Cup games in the last seven years as a serial winner of the Europa League and lost them all.

  • don't miss