Messi stars as Barcelona beat Sevilla 5-4


Lionel Messi scored twice and set up the win­ning goal as Barcelona started the sea­son in dra­matic style by beat­ing Sevilla 5-4 af­ter ex­tra time to lift the UEFA Su­per Cup on Tues­day.

The ac­tion-packed, all-Span­ish match was won when Pe­dro, linked by Bri­tish media with a move to Manch­ester United, scored from close range af­ter a shot by Messi re­bounded in the 115th minute.

In the fi­nal sec­onds of ex­tra time, Sevilla de­fender Adil Rami had a golden chance to send the match to penal­ties but missed an open goal from close range.

Ear­lier, Sevilla had bat­tled back from 4-1 down to 4-4 as Barcelona’s fit­ness was tested in its first com­pet­i­tive match of the sea­son - Europe’s cur­tain-raiser be­tween the win­ners of the Cham­pi­ons League and the sec­ond-tier Europa League.

Af­ter a busy pre-sea­son with games in the United States, Italy and Spain, Barcelona’s dom­i­nance evap­o­rated mid­way through the sec­ond half.

“I thought we were much bet­ter, much stronger,” Messi said of the first hour of the match. “We had the ball for the first 60 min­utes, we had op­por­tu­ni­ties, we scored. And then we seemed to have re­laxed, we let them have the ball, we with­drew a bit.

“It got pretty tough when we looked like we were win­ning hands down, but for­tu­nately we didn’t have to go to penal­ties.”

Call­ing the match “spec­tac­u­lar” for Barcelona’s sup­port­ers, coach Luis En­rique sug­gested his team had taken too many risks while lead­ing.

“We’d prac­ti­cally closed the match, but it’s very dif­fi­cult to se­cure this,” he said. “When you’re win­ning 4-1, the ri­val has got noth­ing to lose. What we do need is to an­a­lyze what hap­pened at that point and the risks that they took.”

Luis En­rique re­fused to dis­cuss whether Pe­dro’s win­ning goal could make it more likely for him to stay with the club.

His Sevilla coun­ter­part Unai Emery said he was “very proud” of his team, which has been re­built over the sum­mer af­ter its Europa League win.

“If there’s one thing we want to make this team, it’s com­pet­i­tive. We want this team to re­ally go for vic­tory what­ever the cir­cum­stances,” he said. “We stood up to the best team in the world.”

On a warm sum­mer night, Barcelona was with­out in­jured left­back Jordi Alba and star striker Ney­mar, who is ill with mumps, while var­i­ous ab­sences for Sevilla meant that midfielder Grze­gorz Krychowiak dropped into the cen­ter-back role.

Euro­pean cham­pion Barcelona went be­hind three min­utes into the game when Ever Banega scored from a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Messi curled two di­rect free­kicks past Sevilla goal­keeper Beto in the sev­enth and 16th min­utes and was a con­stant threat in at­tack with through­out the first half, though he made less of a mark af­ter the break.

Barcelona’s third came shortly be­fore half­time when Luis Suarez pounced on the re­bound af­ter his shot was par­ried by Beto and crossed for Rafinha to score.

Suarez grabbed a goal in the 52nd minute fol­low­ing a poor pass by Sevilla de­fender Benoit Tre­mouli­nas. The French left-back gave the ball away to Ser­gio Bus­quets, who played in Suarez to ap­ply a calm fin­ish. How­ever, it was can­celed out al­most im­me­di­ately when the un­marked Jose An­to­nio Reyes ran in at the far post to steer home a cross by Vi­tolo.

Vi­tolo was again in the thick of the ac­tion a quar­ter of an hour later as he tried to reach a cross from Tre­mouli­nas but was fouled by Jeremy Mathieu, play­ing at left-back for the in­jured Alba. The re­sult­ing penalty was hit hard and left by Kevin Gameiro.

Sevilla pulled level when debu­tant Yevhen Kono­plyanka slot­ted in from close range off a low pass from Ciro Im­mo­bile in the 81st minute.

Hav­ing won the Span­ish league and cup ti­tles, along with the Cham­pi­ons League, lift­ing the Su­per Cup keeps Barcelona on track to win six tro­phies in a cal­en­dar year, a feat the club last achieved un­der Pep Guardi­ola in 2009.

Next up is the Span­ish Su­per Cup against Atheltic Bil­bao on Fri­day and Mon­day, be­fore the Club World Cup in De­cem­ber.


(Above) Ger­ard Pique, of FC Barcelona, top, vies for the ball with Adil Rami and Coke of Sevilla FC dur­ing the UEFA Su­per Cup soc­cer match be­tween FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Boris Paichadze Di­namo Arena sta­dium in Tbil­isi, Ge­or­gia, Tues­day, Aug. 11. (Right) Barcelona’s Lionel Messi runs with the ball dur­ing the UEFA Su­per Cup soc­cer match be­tween FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Boris Paichadze Di­namo Arena sta­dium in Tbil­isi, Tues­day.

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