Barcelona win 5-4 thriller against Sevilla in extra-time to clinch UEFA Super Cup
Barcelona and Sevilla traded blows in the UEFA Super Cup tie as both sides had spells of dominance in the 90 minutes that ended 4-4, taking the game to extra time. Leo Messi bagged a brace in the process, both his goals coming from splendid freekicks. Luis Suarez and Rafinha the other two scorers for the Blaugrana, and the eventual decider was scored by Barcelona substitute Pedro in extra-time. Ever Banega, Jose Antonio Reyes, Kevin Gameiro and made up the numbers for the Europa League winners.
The UEFA Super Cup this season was an all-Spanish clash, the same as last season when Real Madrid played Sevilla. This season, the Europa League winners remained constant while the 2014-15 Champions League winners Barcelona headed to Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, Georgia for the tie. Spanish sides have historically had a great record in UEFA Supercups having won 12 in the past, more than any other league, Italian sides have the second most (9) and England third (7).
Nonetheless, Sevilla coach Unai Emery came into the match with a pretty poor record against FC Barcelona having never beaten them as a manager (6 Draws, 13 Losses). He was hoping to overturn that record but it was not to be, instead his record was to be extended, making it 14 losses against the Champions League holders.
Sevilla made a strong start, Ever Banega hitting the back of the net with a superb freekick in just the third minute. It was the only action, Sevilla would see in the attacking third for the first half as Barcelona went on undeterred to equalise and take the lead by the 15th minute. Only one man was behind it, Lionel Messi took the game by the scruff of its neck, scoring in the 7th minute from a laser guided freekick into the top right corner and 8 minutes later again from a dead ball further out but majestically placed out of the reach of Sevilla keeper Beto.
After a start that just went by at the speed of light, the game barely slowed down as Barcelona repeatedly attacked the flaky looking Sevilla defence. Messi was in full flow as most of Barcelona’s offensive moves were routed through him. He went past players, brought others into play and dragged defenders out of position repeatedly to make Barcelona’s attack more potent and able to create numerous chances through the half.
At the 44 minute mark, another Barcelona star from last season Luis Suarez ran through clear of the defence way ahead of the last Rojiblanco defender but could only hit his shot against Beto, as the ball rolled out wide, Suarez chased it to cross it as Rafinha ran on to it and converted from close range.
As the Catalan club walked into the dressing room at half-time 3-1 up, the game looked all but a formality in the second half. Suspicions of that seemed to be confirmed as Suarez pounced on a defensive error to make it 4-1 for the Spanish champions and seemingly seal the tie.
At some point between the 52nd and 57th minute, the game entirely changed as an unmarked Reyes smashed the ball into the net from a cross on the 57 minute mark to kick off what would be a comeback that showed great character from the men in white.
In the 72 minute, things would get a little more nervy for the leaders as Vitolo was dragged down in the box by Mathieu to gift Sevilla a penalty. Kevin Gameiro stepped up and drove his shot past Ter Stegen to set-up a spectacular finish to the game. Ciro Immobile having just come on for Sevilla, in the 81st minute had his first touch of the ball which he used to get past Marc Bartra who had come on for Barcelona, the Italian then squared the ball to another substitute Yevhen Konoplyanka who levelled the game.
The Ukranian’s strike took the game into extra-time and now Sevilla had the momentum. The first half of extra-time passed without much action as everyone on the pitch struggled to catch their breath from the pace of the match. Vitolo secured an injury, seemingly more out of exhaustion than anything else but chose to remain in the game. Crucially, Pedro came on for the Catalan side but did not have a telling effect in the first half.
The second half of extra time began and saw some more movement, Sevilla were increasingly being pegged back into their own half. They gave away a couple of freekicks in dangerous positions but Barcelona could not capitalise, until Luis Suarez was brought down in Messi range and the Argentine skipper stepped up. His freekick, this time smashed into the wall, but he jumped on the rebound, sending a deflected shot speeding towards goal. Beto palmed away the shot but could not stop Pedro’s shot as the Spanish forward pounced and smashed the ball into the roof of the net to hand Barcelona the impetus in the 115th minute with his 99th goal for the club.
Sevilla then went into overdrive, creating at least two chances in the remaining time which they should have taken to push the game to penalties but it just wasn't their day as Messi and co ran out winners of the UEFA Super Cup and their hero, a man seemingly Manchester-bound Pedro Rodriguez.
The entertaining encounter was rooted in both sides’ inability to defend on the day. Neither side could seem to bother much with it as players on both teams regularly found themselves unmarked and in loads of space. It made for great viewing but both Unai Emery and Luis Enrique will have to address these issues before they can embark on their respective journeys this season.
Sevilla may have lost this one but they will still look to cause some upsets competing in the Champions League this season. Barcelona on the other hand, will back themselves with the return of Neymar and Jordi Alba to full fitness to win the sextuple.
Watch the highlights of the game here:Published 12 Aug 2015, 01:30 IST