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FC Barcelona are still on course for a famous treble this season, but they already have one piece of silverware for the collection.
On Wednesday evening, they claimed the third edition of the Catalan Super Cup with a victory on penalties following a goalless draw in front of 10,576 people at the Camp d’Esports in Lleida.
Although twelve of the heavyweights in the Barça squad were rested, only Carles Aleña and Jorge Cuenca of the B team were included in the starting eleven, offering a great chance to get a good look at Ousmane Dembélé and Yerry Mina in action.
Espanyol were also resting some of their biggest names, but their opening XI consisted solely of first team players.
Had it not been for some rather suspect finishing, the first half could have brought goals at both ends of the pitch. But it didn’t.
Barça dominated the possession, and had a strong flurry early on, Paco Alcácer almost scoring in the first minute. But as the game progressed more and more of the big chances were going the way of the blue-and-whites.
There was also concern when Denis Suárez hobbled off with a groin injury just before the break.
Sporting a new haircut, Ernesto Valverde used the second half to hand first team debuts to a number or youngsters: Martin Hongla, Carles Pérez, Abel Ruiz, Juan Miranda and the first English player to feature for FCB since the great Gary Lineker, Marcus McGuane.
Despite the changes, the script was largely the same. Barça had the ball but Espanyol continued to get the lion’s share of the goalmouth action, and Jasper Cillessen was very much the man of the moment with a series of top quality saves.
But there would be more for the Dutch stopper to do after the final whistle, with the title set to be decided on penalties.
Paco Alcácer, Sergi Palencia, Yerry Mina and Abel Ruiz all converted their kicks with confidence.
But for Espanyol, Sergi Darder sent his to the skies. And when Cillessen topped his stellar performance by saving from José Manuel Jurado, there was no need for any more.
The trophy, and local bragging rights, belonged to FC Barcelona.
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