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Asensio's brilliance leaves Barcelona wondering what might have been

Soccer Football - Real Madrid vs Barcelona - Spanish Super Cup Second Leg - Madrid, Spain - August 16, 2017 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi looks dejected after Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio scored their first goal REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Soccer Football - Real Madrid vs Barcelona - Spanish Super Cup Second Leg - Madrid, Spain - August 16, 2017 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi looks dejected after Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio scored their first goal REUTERS/Sergio Perez

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona were given a painful reminder of what they missed out on by failing to sign Marco Asensio after the Spanish youngster's long range strike set Real Madrid on their way to a 2-0 win over the Catalans on Wednesday to seal the Spanish Super Cup.

The Spain under-21 international had the Santiago Bernabeu crowd screaming with delight after his stunning goal in the fourth minute, adding to his 90th minute thunderbolt which had sealed a 3-1 win for Madrid in the first leg at the Nou Camp.

Karim Benzema added a second shortly before half-time to give Real a 5-1 aggregate win, which was richly deserved and led Barca defender Gerard Pique to declare he felt inferior to Real for the first time in 10 years.

Asensio's contribution to Real's dominance over the two legs was even more painful for Barca as they had let the former Mallorca forward slip from their grasp three years ago, according to the Spaniard's agent Horacio Gaggioli.

Gaggioli said in an interview with website Bleacher Report that in the summer of 2014 Barca refused to pay the 4.5 million euros ($5.2 million) Mallorca were asking for Asensio up front, preferring to pay in two installments, leaving Madrid to snap him up later in the year for a reported 3.9 million euros.

Asensio spent the first year after his transfer on loan at Espanyol. But he has made the most of the chances given since returning to Real at the start of last season and on Sunday became the first player in the club's history to score in five of his competition debuts.

Asensio has struck on his Liga, King's Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup debuts for Real, also netting against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and grabbing the final goal in Real's 4-1 win over Juventus in the final.

Asensio was limited to 11 Liga starts last season but is set for a far bigger role this year.

"When I saw his goal my jaw dropped," said Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, a teammate of Asensio with Spain's under-21 side.

"What Marco keeps doing does not surprise me, I have known him for three years. He has the talent to keep doing what he’s doing in big games and against great teams."

Coach Zinedine Zidane added: "Asensio is going to cause a real stir."

($1 = 0.8545 euros)

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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