Athletic Bilbao handles Barcelona to capture Spanish Super Cup

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Athletic Bilbao ended a 31-year trophy drought with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Monday, claiming the Spanish Super Cup with a 5-1 aggregate victory over the reigning European champions.

After Bilbao's stunning 4-0 win in Friday's first leg, Barcelona threatened a comeback when Lionel Messi put the hosts ahead a minute before halftime after Luis Suarez set him up. But their hopes of an improbable turnaround diminished when Gerard Pique earned a rash red card for screaming in the face of a line judge in the 56th.

That helped Bilbao withstand the onslaught before Aritz Aduriz netted the equalizer in the 74th, adding to the striker's hat trick on Friday. Bilbao also finished with 10 men after Kike Sola was sent off in the 86th for a challenge on Javier Mascherano.

The result means Barcelona can't match the six titles it won in a single calendar year under Pep Guardiola in 2009. Last week, Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup after completing a rare treble of the Champions League, Spanish League and Copa del Rey last season, and it will play in the Club World Cup in December.

Luis Enrique's Barcelona won't have to wait long to try and avenge the smarting defeat. His side travels back to Bilbao to start their defense of the Spanish league title on Sunday. Bilbao won its last title in 1984, when it beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa del Rey final to complete a double of cup and league trophies.

After losing to Barcelona's collection of international stars in three Copa del Rey finals since 2009, the win is quite an achievement for a club that only fields homegrown players from the northern Basque Country or neighboring territories.

Luis Enrique switched goalkeepers after Marc-Andre ter Stegen conceded eight goals in his last two outings, opting for Claudio Bravo, who only played in league games last season. The manager also returned to his first-choice squad— except for Neymar (mumps) and Jordi Alba (injured)— after Bilbao picked apart his mix of regulars and reserves in the first leg.

With its pride stung and nothing to lose, Barcelona showed the verve it lacked from the first leg right from the start. But missed chances and bad tempers soon quashed any slim hopes of a comeback. Pedro Rodriguez blasted the ball high from close range moments before Pique began his frequent incursions into attack and smashed the ball off the bar in the sixth minute.

The Camp Nou crowd erupted when Messi finally broke through just before the break after Suarez chested Ivan Rakitic's cross down for the forward to poke past goalie Gorka Iraizoz.

But instead of unsettling Bilbao, it was Barcelona that came undone. The team paid dearly for Pique's outburst at the line judge for what the Spain defender thought was an offside situation that wasn't flagged. Aduriz sealed the result against the undermanned back line when he was left unmarked and with enough time to put his own rebound past Bravo.

 

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