Lionel Messi scored twice, together with a surprising solo objective, as Barcelona blew away Athletic Bilbao to win the Copa del Rey on Saturday, consigning their opponents to a second remaining defeat in two weeks. The cup was gained and misplaced in a whirlwind 12 minutes in Seville, which noticed Barca rating 4 instances to clinch an emphatic 4-0 victory, with Messi at his devastating greatest. It’s but to be seen if his seventh Copa del Rey triumph is the final trophy Messi lifts in Barcelona colors but when this was to be a remaining flourish, the 33-year-old crafted a becoming farewell. “It’s totally particular to be captain of this staff the place I’ve spent my entire life and really particular to have the ability to elevate this cup,” Messi mentioned.
His first objective, and Barca’s third, began with the Argentinian in his personal half earlier than a charging run down the fitting and a surge ahead into the penalty space gave him the prospect for a easy end.
With the membership’s new president Joan Laporta within the crowd, Ronald Koeman’s first title as Barcelona coach must also considerably increase his possibilities of remaining in cost past the summer season.
“To win a title is necessary for me,” Koeman admitted afterwards.
But Laporta was noticeably evasive when requested about Koeman’s future.
“He’s doing properly,” he mentioned.
Koeman took over a staff at all-time low, humiliated by an historic loss to Bayern Munich and wounded by the makes an attempt of Messi to depart the membership totally free.
However this thirty first Copa del Rey success for the membership is a testomony to progress made and Koeman will hope it not solely helps persuade Messi to remain however offers Barca momentum now in a neck-and-neck title race in La Liga.
“Regardless of the adjustments on the membership and the younger gamers, at Barca you need to at all times struggle for trophies,” Koeman mentioned.
“Now we have the primary one and now we’re going to struggle to the final sport in La Liga.”
Gerard Pique mentioned it felt just like the membership had been “reset”.
‘Turned it round’
“Generally you fall down and you need to rise up,” Pique mentioned. “It has been a tough yr however the staff has turned it round.”
Messi was despatched off when Athletic Bilbao beat Barcelona, additionally on the La Cartuja, in January to win the Spanish Tremendous Cup however they by no means seemed like pulling off a repeat.
After Athletic misplaced to their Basque rivals Actual Sociedad in final yr’s postponed remaining solely two weeks in the past, lifting themselves for one more showpiece in the identical stadium and in opposition to a more durable opponent was at all times going to be an enormous ask.
“In each finals we performed properly under the extent that we’re able to,” mentioned Athletic coach Marcelino Garcia Toral.
Barcelona had been nearly forward after 4 minutes as Sergio Busquets performed in Messi, who rolled again for Frenkie de Jong however his sidefooted end got here again off the far submit.
Sergino Dest dragged large whereas Inigo Martinez had Athletic’s greatest likelihood however as he stretched for the bouncing ball, he might solely poke over.
Athletic appeared to have performed their approach into the match earlier than half-time however Barcelona got here out with renewed vigour, with Unai Simon making two sensible saves to disclaim Antoine Griezmann after which Busquets, each from shut vary.
However when the resistance gave approach, it turned a collapse, with objectives scored within the sixtieth, 63rd, 68th and 72nd minutes to depart Athletic’s hopes in tatters.
First, Messi slipped in Dest down the fitting and his cross was diverted in by Griezmann earlier than the second got here from the alternative flank, Jordi Alba curled in a cross for De Jong to nod in.
The third was a spectacular from Messi, who began the transfer in his personal half, leaping over one problem and dodging one other.
He took the ball again from Dest and drove down the fitting wing, away from three opponents and inside.
Messi twice performed off De Jong, the second time after motoring ahead into the penalty space, the place he darted between two final Athletic defenders and slid the end into the far nook.
His second, and Barca’s fourth, was extra straight-forward, Alba pulling a cross again for the Argentinian to tuck below a weak proper hand from Simon and contained in the submit. For Athletic, there was no approach again.