Barcelona wins UEFA Super Cup in nine-goal thriller against Sevilla
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Lionel Messi scored twice and set up the winning goal as Barcelona started the season in dramatic style by beating Sevilla 5-4 after extra time to lift the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday.
The action-packed, all-Spanish match was won when Pedro, linked by British media with a move to Manchester United, scored from close range after a shot by Messi rebounded in the 115th minute.
In the final seconds of extra time, Sevilla defender Adil Rami had a golden chance to send the match to penalties but missed an open goal from close range.
Earlier, Sevilla had battled back from 4-1 down to 4-4 as Barcelona's fitness was tested in its first competitive match of the season — Europe's curtain-raiser between the winners of the Champions League and the second-tier Europa League.
On a warm summer night, Barcelona was without injured left back Jordi Alba and star striker Neymar, who is ill with mumps, while various absences for Sevilla meant that midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak dropped into the center-back role.
European champion Barcelona went behind three minutes into the game when Ever Banega scored from a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.
Messi curled two direct free-kicks past Sevilla goalkeeper Beto in the seventh and 16th minutes and was a constant threat in attack with throughout the first half, though he made less of a mark after the break.
Barcelona's third came shortly before halftime when Luis Suarez pounced on the rebound after his shot was parried by Beto and crossed for Rafinha to score.
Suarez grabbed a goal in the 52nd minute following a poor pass by Sevilla defender Benoit Tremoulinas. The French left-back gave the ball away to Sergio Busquets, who played in Suarez to apply a calm finish. However, it was canceled out almost immediately when the unmarked Jose Antonio Reyes ran in at the far post to steer home a cross by Vitolo.
Vitolo was again in the thick of the action a quarter of an hour later as he tried to reach a cross from Tremoulinas but was fouled by Jeremy Mathieu, playing at left-back for the injured Jordi Alba. The resulting penalty was hit hard and left by Kevin Gameiro.
Sevilla pulled level when debutant Yevhen Konoplyanka slotted in from close range off a low pass from Ciro Immobile in the 81st minute.
Pedro came on for extra time, adding much-needed freshness to a flagging Barcelona team. Minutes earlier, Messi had attempted a spectacular bicycle kick but missed.
After a busy pre-season with games in the U.S., Italy and Spain, Barcelona's dominance evaporated in the second half, with some players tiring early.
Winning the Super Cup keeps Barcelona on track to win six trophies in a calendar year, a feat the club last achieved under Pep Guardiola in 2009. The next is the Spanish Super Cup against Atheltic Bilbao on Friday and Monday, before the Club World Cup in December.
Barcelona set a record by winning the Super Cup for the fifth time, while Sevilla has now lost on three of the four occasions it has contested the tournament, all in the last decade.
It was the highest-scoring Super Cup match ever, beating Juventus' 6-1 thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain in 1996.