Barcelona beats hard-fighting Sevilla to lift Super Cup
Barcelona substitute Pedro scored deep into extra time to secure the European Super Cup with a 5-4 win over Sevilla in a thriller on Tuesday after they surrendered a three-goal lead in Tbilisi.
Barca said before the game that Pedro wanted to leave the club but the 28-year-old came on to win the trophy, just as he did in 2009, pouncing on a rebound from a Lionel Messi shot.
Messi had himself scored a double with two stunning early free kicks while Rafinha and Luis Suarez also netted for the Catalans, who led 4-1 with just over half an hour left.
Ever Banega had given Europa League winners Sevilla the lead with a free-kick after three minutes but Messi stamped his mark on the game with stunning free-kicks after seven and 16 minutes.
The Argentine’s double for the Champions League holders means he is again joint record scorer in European competition with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo on 80 goals.
“The beginning of the game was weird, we were losing, but after that we performed way better than Sevilla, we possessed the ball well in the first 60 minutes and we had good opportunities to score goals. But after that I think we relaxed and gave them the ball, we took a step back and they took advantage of the situation and started to score, so the game got complicated when we had all the chances to win, but fortunately then we got back in and won,” a relived Messi told reporters after the game.
Rafinha slotted home a Luis Suarez pass just before the break and the Uruguayan scored himself after the restart having been found by Sergio Busquets to put Barca firmly in command.
Sevilla, though, fought back with goals from Jose Antonio Reyes, after 57 minutes, and Kevin Gameiro, with a penalty in the 72nd, before Yevhen Konoplyanka equalised with 10 minutes left to force the game into extra time.
With Neymar out due to mumps, Barca coach Luis Enrique chose Rafinha ahead of Pedro in attack but three minutes into extra time the Canary Islander got his chance and made the most of it.
Pedro fired the winner into the roof of the net from close range with five minutes left as Barca stayed on track to win six trophies this calendar year on the back of last season’s treble.
Pedro also came off the bench in the 2009 Super Cup final against Shakhtar Donetsk to score in the 115th minute and secure a 1-0 victory for Barca after they had won their first treble.
Taking advantage of good opportunities
“We already knew it was going to be difficult to play our rival, this game shows how difficult it is to win titles and games. We are happy for our fans, I believe our players did their best handling the even score. And well, we are satisfied and already thinking ahead to Spain’s Supercopa,” said Enrique during his post match news conference.
“When you are winning 4-1, your rival has nothing to lose, obviously this is something we have to analyse. The risks our rival took got them back into the game, thanks to a penalty and some good wide play. These things happen, actually we had a similar situation with them last year, we were winning 2-0 and we ended up 2-2, today this happened again during a final.”
He added: “We cannot forget the potential of the rival, it feels like Barcelona has to win all the titles but it’s not like that. We have to feel proud of our performance today, about how we came back into the game and took advantage of the good opportunities.”
Sevilla coach Unai Emery said he would take many positives from his sides performance.
“I want to congratulate Barcelona. It’s difficult to talk about what is fair or unfair, as per the score, it is fair, but in terms of the game itself, what we have offered, how close we were to winning, the chances we have created. After the score was 4-1 in 5 minutes we started to score. We feel proud of our performance, mainly against a team like Barcelona, we valued our level in the game against them, because we wanted to challenge ourselves before the best team in the world,” said Emery.
Barca’s fifth triumph in the competition, which means they have now won four trophies this year, moved them level with AC Milan on the all-time UEFA Super Cup winners list.
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