Bil­bao hold off Barca to win Su­per Cup 5-1

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JOSEPH WIL­SON

Ath­letic Bil­bao ended a 31-year tro­phy drought with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Mon­day, claim­ing the Span­ish Su­per Cup with a 5-1 ag­gre­gate vic­tory over the reign­ing Euro­pean cham­pi­ons.

Af­ter Bil­bao’s stun­ning 4-0 win in Fri­day’s first leg, Barcelona threat­ened a come­back when Lionel Messi put the hosts ahead a minute be­fore half­time. But their hopes of an im­prob­a­ble turn­around di­min­ished when Ger­ard Pique earned a rash red card for scream­ing in the face of a line judge in the 56th.

That helped Bil­bao with­stand the on­slaught be­fore Aritz Aduriz net­ted the equal­izer in the 74th, adding to the striker’s hat trick on Fri­day.

Bil­bao also fin­ished with 10 men af­ter Kike Sola was sent off in the 86th for a chal­lenge on Javier Mascher­ano.

Bil­bao won its last ti­tle in 1984, when it beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa del Rey fi­nal to com­plete a dou­ble of cup and league tro­phies. The Su­per Cup tra­di­tion­ally pits last sea­son’s league win­ners against the cup cham­pion — but since Barcelona won both, Bil­bao played cour­tesy of its run­ner-up fin­ish in the Copa del Rey.

“We have been wait­ing for this for a long time,” said Bil­bao coach Ernesto Valverde. “Gen­er­a­tions of play­ers have passed through Ath­letic since those league and cup ti­tles of the 1980s. We knew it would ar­rive even­tu­ally.”

The re­sult means Barcelona can’t match the six ti­tles it won in a sin­gle cal­en­dar year un­der Pep Guardi­ola in 2009. Last week, Barcelona won the UEFA Su­per Cup af­ter com­plet­ing a rare tre­ble of the Cham­pi­ons League, Span­ish League and Copa del Rey last sea­son, and it will play in the Club World Cup in De­cem­ber.

Luis En­rique’s Barcelona won’t have to wait long to try and avenge the de­feat. His side trav­els back to Bil­bao to start their de­fense of the Span­ish league ti­tle on Sun­day.

Af­ter los­ing to Barcelona’s col­lec­tion of in­ter­na­tional stars in three Copa del Rey fi­nals since 2009, the win is quite an achieve­ment for a club that only fields home­grown play­ers from the north­ern Basque Coun­try or neigh­bor­ing ter­ri­to­ries.

And its play­ers sa­vored the mo­ment with the smat­ter­ing of fans wear­ing their red-and-white shirts af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

“This makes up for those fi­nals we lost to Barca,” said Valverde. “It isn’t a league or a cup, but this has an enor­mous value for us. There will no bet­ter place than Bil­bao for a party tonight.”

With its pride stung and noth­ing to lose, Barcelona showed the verve it lacked from the first leg right from the start. But missed chances and bad tem­pers soon quashed any slim hopes of a come­back.

“I saw a very good Bil­bao side, and we were see­ing a very good fi­nal un­til Ger­ard was sent off,” Luis En­rique said.

Pe­dro Ro­driguez had Barcelo- na’s first chance when he blasted the ball high from close range. Mo­ments later, Pique be­gan his fre­quent in­cur­sions into at­tack and smashed the ball off the bar in the sixth minute.

The Camp Nou crowd fi­nally erupted when Messi broke through just be­fore the break af­ter Luis Suarez chested Ivan Rakitic’s cross down for the for­ward to poke past goalie Gorka Iraizoz.

But in­stead of un­set­tling Bil­bao, it was Barcelona that came un­done. The team paid dearly for Pique’s out­burst at the line judge for what the Spain de­fender thought was an off­side sit­u­a­tion that wasn’t flagged.

Aduriz sealed the re­sult against the un­der­manned back line when he was left un­marked and with enough time to put his own re­bound.

(Left) Ath­letic Bil­bao fans celebrate the vic­tory of their team against FC Barcelona dur­ing a sec­ond leg Span­ish Su­per Cup soc­cer match in Bil­bao, north­ern Spain, Mon­day, Aug. 17. (Right) Barcelona’s Javier Mascher­ano falls on top of Ath­letic Bil­bao’s Os­car de Mar­cos dur­ing a sec­ond leg Span­ish Su­per Cup soc­cer match be­tween FC Barcelona and Ath­letic Bil­bao at the Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona, Mon­day.

AP

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