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The Spanish Super Cup was the only major title that Luis Enrique was missing from his collection as Barça manager, but all that changed in spectacular style on Wednesday night as his team completed a 5-0 aggregate defeat of Sevilla.
It was an awesome performance in the first competitive match of the season at the Camp Nou, with Arda Turan (2) and Leo Messi getting the goals that ensured a record twelfth victory for the Catalans in the traditional curtain-raiser to the official season.
The 71,803 people that were there for an 11.00pm kick-off local time got their first chance to see all of Umtiti, Digne, Denis Suárez and Gomes in competitive action. The summer signings were all included in the starting XI, while the likes of Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto and Luis Suárez watched on from the bench.
Any ideas that this second leg would be a mere formality after the 2-0 win at the Sánchez Pizjuán were thrown into early doubt. Sevilla came out firing on all cylinders and had three huge chances within the first five minutes, with Ben Yedder hitting the post in the third.
But games like these are all about taking your chances, and when Barça finally had one of their own in the ninth minute, they did just that. Following a sweet move with Gomes, Leo Messi slipped the ball to attacking partner Arda Turan, and the Turkey international tucked it away. The early scare had been averted and now Barça were in greater command than ever!
Supported by a three-goal cushion and with Messi and Gomes looking like they’d been playing together for years, Barça were cruising their way through the half when a penalty was given against them on 32 minutes. It may have been more ball to Umtiti’s hand than the other way round, but the referee had no doubt. Neither did Claudio Bravo. He read Iborra’s intentions perfectly, and Sevilla had wasted a lifeline.
Another one went begging on the stroke of half-time when Mercado headed onto the crossbar. In a curious first half, Barça had looked comfortable, much the better side and had even scored a goal, but Sevilla has squandered multiple chances to get back into the tie.
However, the teams had barely emerged from the tunnel for the second half when any chance of a Sevilla comeback was put to rest. A muddle in their defence was snapped upon by Arda Turan, who launched a wonderful chip over Sergio Rico’s head for his and Barça’s second of the night.
And on 56 minutes it really was game over. Lucas Digne whipped in a terrific cross and Messi threw his head at it to send the ball past the flailing Rico. That was the Argentinian’s 100th goal of the Luis Enrique era. 5-0 on aggregate and with the clocks now into the small hours of Thursday morning, the atmosphere in the Camp Nou was understandably raucous!
From now on the only question was how many Barça could score. A Messi free-kick, a long range drive from Rakitic, a goal disallowed for Munir … at least one more was definitely on the cards until Barça were forced to play the last ten minutes with ten men. Mascherano withdrew injured and all three of the home side’s changes had already been made.
But by this stage Sevilla knew they were well beaten. Even when a man down, Barça continued to dominate until the final whistle. A late Messi strike that sailed just over the bar would have been the icing on the cake but even so there were nothing but positives to be taken out of this game.
That’s the Super Cup in the bag. Next up it’s the first game in La Liga, and things at FCB are shaping up very nicely indeed!
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