Barcelona breeze to fourth UEFA Super Cup

Lionel Messi and Cesc Fàbregas scored late in either half as FC Barcelona defeated nine-man FC Porto at Stade Louis II to win the UEFA Super Cup for the second time in two years and a fourth overall.

Fresh from becoming the first recipient of the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, Messi was the epitome of coolness on a sweltering night in Monaco as he seized upon Fredy Guarín’s back pass, jinked his way past Helton and rolled in the 39th-minute opener.

The Portuguese champions were still in the contest until the 86th minute, when Rolando collected a second yellow card and Porto’s first red. Barça wasted little time capitalising, substitute Fàbregas finishing delightfully before Guarín was dismissed in the final minute for a sliding challenge on Javier Mascherano.

Both coaches had talked up the fixture and chances came and went during a lively opening spell. Hulk had already curled a free-kick over from a promising position when Víctor Valdés dived to his left to tip behind an angled shot from João Moutinho.

The first true opportunity fell to Pedro Rodríguez in the tenth minute. So clinical when scoring a delightful goal in the UEFA Champions League final, the Spanish international could only loft an effort on to the roof of the Porto net when free in the area after an Andrés Iniesta pass had been deflected into his path via the heel of Jorge Fucile.

Hulk was the next to flash a shot across goal − earning due applause for a series of speedy step-overs in the build-up − and Helton then took no chances with a rising Xavi Hernández shot from outside the box.

As the half wore on, so did Barcelona’s influence, the pressure telling when Guarín, boxed in in his own half, prodded a hopeful ball backwards that was gratefully collected by the unmarked Messi. The rest was inevitable.

Porto had little choice but to come out and attack after the break, yet save for a fierce shot from distance from Guarín, rarely troubled a Barça defence shorn of regular centre-backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué. Instead, there was more space for Josep Guardiola’s side to counter and from one end-to-end foray David Villa could have made the game safe but his low shot lacked punch and Helton smothered at his near post.

Two minutes later, as the hour approached, the goalkeeper charged off his line to deny Pedro as the striker attempted to bring a Messi pass, which had dissected the Dragons’ defence, under control. The real drama was saved for the closing stages, Fàbregas − eight minutes after replacing Pedro − keeping his cool as Porto lost theirs to control a Messi chip on his chest and fire emphatically into the net with a first-time volley.

It would have been 3-0 had Helton not denied man of the match Iniesta in added time, leaving Porto to ponder a third UEFA Super Cup defeat since 2003.

UEFA Official Site

http://www.uefa.com/uefasupercup/season=2011/matches/round=2000258/match=2006776/postmatch/report/index.html#barcelona+breeze+fourth+uefa+super+cup

About Marc Leprêtre

Marc Leprêtre is researcher in sociolinguistics, history and political science. Born in Etterbeek (Belgium), he lives in Barcelona (Spain) since 1982. He holds a PhD in History and a BA in Sociolinguistics. He is currently head of studies and prospective at the Centre for Contemporary Affairs (Government of Catalonia). Devoted Springsteen and Barça fan…
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