Nine-man Real Madrid take Super Cup crown
MADRID, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Nine-man Real Madrid earned an unlikely 4-2 comeback victory over Valencia at home to win their eighth Spanish Super Cup at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
King's Cup winners Valencia had taken control of the traditional curtain-raiser to the season with a 3-2 first leg victory at the Mestalla a week ago, and then a first-half strike from David Silva in the second leg.
A red card for new Real signing Rafael van der Vaart just before the break and a second yellow for Dutch compatriot Ruud van Nistelrooy after he had in the levelled from the penalty spot in the 49th minute, left the visitors in control.
But Real rose to the challenge and further goals from Sergio Ramos, Ruben de la Red and Gonzalo Higuain in the last 13 minutes completed a remarkable fightback by the Spanish champions.
After a minute's silence for the victims of the plane crash at Madrid airport last Wednesday, the game got off to a sluggish start with the home side restricted to shots from range as Valencia gave them little space.
The visitors took the lead with their first attempt on goal after an intricate passing move gave Spain midfielder Silva space to fire low into the corner from the edge of the area in the 33rd.
Real lost Van der Vaart to a red card on his home debut after he dived in with his studs up on Juanma Mata, and the Bernabeu howled their frustration at the break.
Bernd Schuster's side forced an equaliser when Raul Albiol blocked Van Nistelrooy's goalbound header with his arm just after the restart, and the Dutch striker blasted his spotkick wide of Timo Hildebrand.
Arjen Robben came to life and unsettled the Valencia backline with his pace but Van Nistelrooy's sending off in the 73rd minute looked to have scuppered Real's chances.
Valencia failed to take charge, however, and Spain defender Ramos was quickest to the ball after Mahamadou Diarra's header came back off the crossbar at a corner in the 77th.
Substitute De la Red caught out Hildebrand from over 25 metres with a long-range shot three minutes from time, and soon after another substitute Argentine Higuain read a poor backpass from Alexis Ruano to make it 4-1.
Unai Emery's side reacted in injury-time when Fernando Morientes stabbed home David Villa's pass, but it was too late to save the game.
Robinho, who has said he wants to leave Real to join Chelsea, cut a forlorn figure on the bench throughout. There were whistles when his name was read out over the stadium PA and the Brazilian never ventured out to warm up.