Athletic beats Barcelona on aggregate to win Spanish Supercopa


Athletic Bilbao won their first trophy in 31 years by denying Barcelona their sixth of 2015 with a 5-1 aggregate victory in the Supercopa.

Barca briefly led, via Lionel Messi’s 44th-minute goal, but their already minimal hopes of overturning their 4-0 first-leg defeat were effectively ended by Gerard Pique’s red card.

Athletic’s Kike Sola was later sent off in the 86th minute, but by then Aritz Aduriz had already scored the equalizing goal against the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and European champions.

Aware that they required an early goal to give themselves a realistic chance of leveling the tie on aggregate, Barca imposed, even by their high standards, a high intensity on their opponents from kick-off.

Doing so occasionally left them vulnerable on the counter-attack but a goal frustratingly continued to elude them. Pique struck the crossbar from six yards before reported Manchester United transfer target Pedro, running onto a promising 28th-minute low corner, had both time and space to shoot from just outside of the penalty area but instead produced an unexpected air-kick.

Messi, with a free-kick, and Andres Iniesta came closer to scoring before, in the 44th minute, Luis Suarez chested Ivan Rakitic’s curling pass into Messi’s path for the Argentinian to calmly and classily finish from six yards.

Much of Barca’s attacking threat had come from central defender Pique, who was playing with significant freedom, but the Spain international lasted only nine minutes into the second half when he was given a red card for his protests towards one of the assistant referees.

His departure left Barca with an even greater challenge and served only to highlight his importance. Since Carles Puyol’s retirement, Pique has become the club’s key defender and, without him, Barca’s defence gifted Aduriz the space to score Bilbao’s equalizing goal.

SEE MORE: View the 2015/16 La Liga TV schedule for viewers in USA.

The striker, who scored three of Bilbao’s four goals during Friday’s first leg, had both time and space to score when one-on-one with Claudio Bravo. The goalkeeper impressed in saving his first effort but the ball return to Aduriz’s path and he calmly scored, to make the score 1-1, from the rebound.

With four minutes remaining, substitute Sola was given a red card for standing on Javier Mascherano but it did little to change the game’s outcome.

Bilbao, who lost to Barca in the Copa del Rey final at the end of last season, had won their first trophy since 1984. Barca simply missed out on their latest.

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