Barca Win Fourth European Super Cup
Messi and Fabregas gave FC Barcelona their fourth European Super Cup as Pep Guardiola’s side beat nine-man FC Porto 2-0 last night at the Stade Louis II in Monaco.
It took Barcelona 40 minutes to get into the lead. A neglectful back pass from Guarin reached lone Messi inside the box putting it home after a smart body move which sent Helton the wrong way in six yards. Fabregas, who was sent on in the 80th minute, scored his first official goal for his former side five minutes before the final whistle.
Two late red cards saw Rolando and Guarion leave the pitch earlier than expected. Barca won in high style after both dominating the game at all facets and grabbing 70 percent of possession. The European champions FC Porto missed several clear occasions, but never managed to provide the breaker. Moutinho was the first to mock a golden chance in the seventh minute.
The midfielder fished the ball outside the box only to strike it straight at Valdez in what was a difficult test for the Spaniard. Iniesta, who would be named the best player of the final, picked unmarked Pedro in good position, but the winger lost the ball after a great intervention from Rolando who denied the Catalan in what could have been an early opener for the Spaniards.
Without the best European scorer Falcao, who joined Atletico Madrid earlier this month, FC Porto, who also have a new coach on Vitor Pereira, put their hopes on Hulk who got his first big chance in the 12th minute. The striker won the ball outside the box from where he struck a powerful shot just wide.
Porto were the first to concede a yellow card through left midfielder Rodriguez who was cautioned for a poor tackle in the 30th minute. Xabi tried his luck with a well placed shot Helton managed to tip away in the 38th minute. For the Catalans, the opener became just a matter of time.
Just a couple of minutes later, Messi broke through to beat Helton following an impressive personal exquisite to crown the European Best Player of the Year award with yet another precious goal. The half time went 1-0 to Barca as no surprises could be foreseen at the moment.
The first minutes of the second part brought Iniesta a yellow card for kicking the ball away. Meanwhile, Porto were chasing their leveler desperately and Guarin was very close to restarting the game. His shot from range was saved at the death by a vigilant Valdez who could only give the opponents a corner. Barca broke back one minute later through Villa.
Messi played Iniesta who released the left winger inside the box only to be denied by Helton. The 62nd minute saw the Spaniard leave the pitch for newly transferred Alexis Sanchez. Rolando saw the first yellow card four minutes later for a tough challenge on Messi. In order to not lose a player, Pereira replaced booked Rodriguez with Silvestre Varela in the 70th minute.
A poor defending could have cost the Catalans a leveler in the 73rd minute. Mascherano’s back pass to Valdez missed the keeper and reached Hulk who was denied by Abidal who came from behind to tackle the striker and keep the sheet clean.
Porto made a couple of more changes in the 77th minute when Fernando Belluschi and Fernando replaced Kleber and Souza respectively. A controversial situation occurred in the 80th minute when Abidal wanted to recover the ball, action which ended with a little damage for Guarin who asked the referee a penalty.
Two minutes later GUarin received a yellow for a foul on newly introduced Fabregas. The 85th minute saw Rolando depart after a second yellow which followed a challenge on Messi. Fabregas then made it 2-0 with a superb shot into the roof of the net. Messi beat everything on the right to pick the Spaniard inside the box for an onside finish.
The goal preceded yet another second yellow card for Guarin who was eliminated just before the final whistle. Barca grabbed their fourth trophy as Pep Guardiola has become the most appreciated manager in Barcelona history. The Spanish coach has won 12 trophies with the Catalans with which he still has big plans.
Said Pep after the game: “We all know what Leo can do. Even in training sessions, he can do great things. When we are in finals, I know I can count on him. My players are very proud. They are very young and want to excel.”
On the other side, Pereira, who was made his official debut as Porto manager, looked pretty disappointed with his side’s failures: “In a match of such intensity, it’s normal that mistakes are made. We forced Barcelona to make mistakes but we couldn’t capitalise on it.”
FC Barcelona will start the new Champions League season with a derby against the most successful team in Europe, AC Milan whom they meet on September 13 at Camp Nou. The Catalans have been drawn BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen and are part of the group H.
On the other side Porto, who are following a very remarkable season, are rated as main favorites in the group F where the Portuguese side will fight former European champions Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg and APOEL Nicosia for a superior phase berth. They will first meet the Ukrainians on September 13.
FC Barcelona – Valdez; Correia, Abidal, Mascherano, Dani Alvez; Keita, Iniesta, Xabi, Messi; Villa, Pedro. Reserves: Jonathan, S. Busquets, Thiago, O. Olazabal, A. Fontas, A. Sanchez, C. Fabregas.
FC Porto – Helton; Sapunaru, Rolando, Otamendi, Fucile; Souza, Moutinho, Guarin; Hulk, Rodriguez, Kleber. Reserves: D. Campos, Varela, Bracali, Maicon, S. Defour, Belluschi, Fernando.11