Atletico Madrid brought the Spanish Super Cup alive with an extraordinary comeback against a briefly sublime Barcelona.
Lionel Messi had been irresistible in the second half in Jeddah and he equalised for Barcelona before Antoine Griezmann put Barcelona 2-1 up with 62 minutes on the clock.
But somehow they could not find the third and screamed on by a jacket-off Diego Simeone on the touchline, Atletico came back level on 81 minutes before winning it four minutes from time.
This might be the glorified revamp of what ought to be a gentle curtain raiser played between cup winners and league champions but it is turning into something far more enthralling and now on Sunday the final will be contested by the two teams who neither won the cup nor the league last season.
Angel Correa slipped Koke through at the restart and he scored past Neto one minute into the second half.
But Messi responded almost immediately when Arturo Vidal crossed from the right and Luis Suarez guided the ball down to his pal with a chest control and toe poke. Messi did the rest forcing a path past Stefan Savic and Koke to shoot past Jan Oblak.
It was Oblak who denied Messi minutes later when he shot again after receiving a pass from Suarez. The Uruguayan then smashed into Oblak, conceding a foul as Barcelona stepped up the pace.
They took the lead temporarily and it was the captain again. Messi side-stepped Saul having pounced on a rebound created by Vidal’s attempt to guide a header goalward. Messi shot past Oblak but VAR urged the referee to review the goal and Jose Gonzalez made himself the most unpopular man in the King Abdullah Sports City stadium by adjudging Messi had used the top of his arm to control the ball.
Atletico were off the hook but only for a matter of seconds. Jordi Alba crossed from the left and Suarez powered a header goalwards. Oblak could only parry it out to Griezmann who scored against his old club.
Barça were playing as well now as they had played badly for most of the Catalan derby at the weekend. They scored again on 74 minutes but VAR ruled it out this time for offside. Vidal looked level as he received Messi’s free-kick pass hooking it across the face of the goal for Gerard Pique to score from close range. But VAR decided otherwise and it stayed 2-1.
And at 2-1 Atletico were still in it. One penalty would put them level and they would so nearly be awarded another to go ahead. Neto brought down Vitolo who was through on goal and Alvaro Morata scored from the spot.
Pique then handled a cross in the area and with referee Gonzalez consulting VAR it seemed inevitable that he would give Morata a chance to put Atletico ahead. Diego Simeone could barely believe it when the referee waved play on.