Riqui Puig couldn’t keep the smile off his face after scoring the winning penalty for Barcelona on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup.
The game ended 1-1 after extra-time in Cordoba which meant penalties were used to determine the winner. Puig, who came off the bench in extra-time, netted the decisive kick to send Barca into Sunday’s final.
Puig offered his thoughts after the match and admitted he was delighted to score his first goal for Barcelona at such a crucial moment, as reported by ESPN’s Samuel Marsden.
I wasn’t down to take one but we needed one more taker and I was the first to step forward. I was desperate to take it and score my first goal for the club. I have never lost my smile. I am a happy kid. Even if I am not playing, I have my family, my health. If Ronald gives me minutes, I will try and take my chance; if not, keep working hard. I am never going to throw in the towel.
Puig was advised by coach Ronald Koeman to leave Barca on loan at the start of the season but opted to stay and fight for his place. The youngster has only made seven appearances this season but his patience has been rewarded with a memorable moment.
Barca’s win means they go on to play the winner of Thursday’s second semi-final between Real Madrid and Athletic.
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Ter Stegen Talks Penalties
Barcelona also had goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for their victory. The goalkeeper made a string of saves throughout the 120 minutes to keep his side in the match.
6 – Marc-André ter Stegen 🇩🇪 made six saves against Real Sociedad, equalling their best tally in a single game for @FCBarcelona this season in all competitions (also six vs Dynamo Kiev in #UCL). Besides, he saved two of the five penalties in the penalty shoot-out. Hero. pic.twitter.com/mwqmMXbQbf
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 13, 2021
The Germany international also made two saves in the penalty shoot-out to help earn the victory and spoke about the shootout after the match, via the club’s Twitter account.
Well I was super sure that we’d win this one because I also said when we came together a bit that we had to be very concentrated and 100 percent sure and if we miss that’s no a problem. And I saw in their faces that they were really focused on this and obviously then of course I also had to save a couple.
Ter Stegen’s heroics in goal helped secure the victory, while Miralem Pjanic, Ousmane Dembele, and Puig were all successful with their spot-kicks to ensure Barca won 3-2 in the shootout.
Koeman Talks Riqui Puig
Koeman was happy to talk about Puig and his decision to volunteer to take a penalty after the game and offered the midfielder some rare praise, according to Marca. The Dutch boss said, “I had four names on my sheet. I asked who wanted to take the fifth and Riqui said ‘I will.’ He did very well.”
The Dutch boss had to cope without captain Lionel Messi for the match due to injury and also said after the game he wasn’t sure if his captain would be back in time for Sunday’s final.
Koeman asked if Messi will be back for the final: "I don't know, we have to wait and see."
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) January 13, 2021
Barca now have a few days to recover before playing again and will head home before returning to Seville for Sunday’s final. Ronald Koeman’s men will be watching tomorrow’s second semi-final closely and know a Real Madrid win would set up a Clasico final.