Barcelona show resolve to win Copa del Rey final

FC Barcelona 2-0 Sevilla (AET)

FC Barcelona displayed their champion credentials last night as they defied the odds to defeat a strong Sevilla side despite being reduced to ten men for close to 60 minutes. Barcelona had to suffer last night  but in the words of manager Luis Enrique “Since when does anyone win a final without suffering?”

The game got off to a blistering start with both sides exchanging chances in the opening twenty minutes. Luis Suárez had Barca’s best chance of the first half when he latched in to a lofted through ball from Andres Iniesta. To the surprise of many the Uruguayan missed the target. Sevilla’s pace was causing trouble for the Barcelona defence and captain Coke will no doubt roue his missed chance from 10 yards. Then came a turning point in the game. With ten minute left in the first half Iborra’s flick on saw Kevin Gameiro race forward. Javier Mascherano had a decision to make and he opted the pull the Frenchman down. It was a professional foul and referee  Carlos Del Cerro Grande gave the Argentinean his marching orders.

Mascherano watched from by the tunnel as Ever Banega’s free-kick was saved superbly by Marc André ter Stegen and an already difficult game seemed to shift further Sevilla’s way.Until this point it had been close, Sevilla were slightly on top and were content to play counter attacking football exploiting the slow Barca defence. The red card forced Enrique to push midfielder Sergio Busquets into a makeshift center-back for the remainder of the half before at half-time, putting on Jérémy Mathieu at centre-back withdrawing Ivan Rakitic from midfield.

The second half got of to an expected start with Banega watching his strike come off the post thanks to a last minute deflection off the right foot of Gerard Pique.As if life wasn’t hard enough for Barcelona they watched Lionel Messi receive medical attention for a blow to the head before Suárez was forced off in tears after pulling his hamstring. Smelling blood in the water Sevilla pushed for the opener Vitolo was charging forward and so were his teammates. Gamerio and Gregorz Krychowiak both had shots blocked by Busquets. Pique was in inspired form last night he was everywhere. He never shied away from a tackle and won header after header keeping the Catalans alive.

Jordi Alba celebrates his crucial extra time goal.
Jordi Alba celebrates his crucial extra time goal.

Barcelona seemed to be coping remarkably well to the situation they found themselves in and as time ticked on a Sevilla goal seemed less imminent. Barcelona’s attacking trio was gone but they quickly formed another with Iniesta replacing Suárez. The little magician pirouetted past Sevilla players with ease creating chances for Messi and Neymar to get forward. The Andalusian’s were heavy in their tackles last night and a number of questionable calls saw anger grow in the Barca camp. One foul that was given came in the 91st minute when Messi played Neymar through, the Brazilians speed was too much for Banega who brought the winger down. He joined Mascherano for an early shower.With both sides reduced to 10 men extra time seemed less daunting for Barca.

As extra time progressed Barcelona began to take risks with both full-backs reverting to their natural attacking style. With six minutes of the opening fifteen played Messi picked up the ball in the center circle. He strode forward before launching a curling pass into the left hand side of the Sevilla box. Jordi Alba struck it first time low and hard across the face of Sergio Rico’s goal. The left-back celebrated his goal with the exquisite architect Messi who once again created something out of nothing. Rico was called into action from a Pique header producing a fine save to deny the towering center-back.

Sevilla grew desperate as they searched in vain for an equalizer, by pushing forward they left more space which Neymar enjoyed exploiting. He very nearly made it 2-0 when he combined with Iniesta but his header was too weak to beat Rico. Daniel Carriço was sent off for a wild challenge on Messi and dissent. Messi then did it again slipping the ball through to Neymar who opened up his body before slipping the ball under Rico clinching Barcelona’s 28th Copa del Rey title.Last nights victory see Barca become the first side to win the double two years in a row for more than 60 years.

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