In his last game in charge of FC Barcelona, Josep Guardiola guided the club to its 26th Copa del Rey with the Azulgrana producing a trademark first half attacking display to see off the challenge of opponents Athletic Club at the Estadio Vicente Calderón.
Sensing the end of the coach’s four-year reign at the helm of the Catalan giants, Barça blazed into a 3-0 lead midway through the opening half with Pedro Rodríguez scoring either side of Lionel Messi’s 73rd club goal this term. Los Leones enjoyed the better of the chances after the break but could do little to deny Guardiola a 14th trophy since the 41-year-old took the post in 2008.
Athletic Club – the tournament’s second most successful team after Barcelona – arrived in the Spanish capital hopeful of making up for their recent UEFA Europa League final defeat against Club Atlético de Madrid. Marcelo Bielsa’s side were afforded no time to settle, however, and trailed after just three minutes when Pedro pounced in the area after Javi Martínez failed to deal with Gerard Piqué’s flick-on from a Xavi Hernández corner.
Messi drew a flying stop from goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz shortly afterwards but he made no mistake in his team’s subsequent attack, angling a shot high into the net moments after receiving Andrés Iniesta’s defence-splitting pass. It was the Argentinian’s 16th goal in his 13th final appearance.
Athetlic took the lead when these sides met in the 2009 Copa del Rey final but they had little to celebrate in the opening stages this time around as their victors in Valencia three years before moved out of sight in the 25th minute, Pedro curling an accurate strike around Gorka’s outstretched hand from Xavi’s inviting tee-up.
At the other end, José Pinto was alert to keep out efforts from Markel Susaeta and Iker Muniain while Ibai Gómez chipped over and Jon Aurtentxe headed wide as the Basque team continued to rally after the restart. In possession of a commanding lead, however, their opponents rarely looked overly concerned and ended comfortable winners to the delight of their departing coach.
Paul Bryan, UEFA Official Site