Barcelona Winner For Copa Del Ray

Barcelona came back from a goal down to rack up a fully deserved 4-1 Copa del Rey victory over hapless Athletic Bilbao at the Mestalla on Wednesday evening. An early strike from Toquero gave the Lions the lead, but Yaya Toure soon restored parity before a Lionel Messi strike, a Bojan effort, and a Xavi free kick made for a thrilling victory for Barca. It is the Catalan side's 25th Copa del Rey victory and their first piece of silverware since their 2006 Supercopa, League and Champions League wins. Athletic, meanwhile, could not capitalise on their early lead, and thus missed the chance to make it 25 Copas for themselves, and to pick up their first silverware since their Liga and Copa double of 1984. Amidst an intimidating yet friendly atmosphere, the game began with the champions-elect on the back foot. Athletic had lined up in an attacking formation and this almost immediately bore fruit as Barca keeper Pinto was called into an early save from the impressive Toquero. Indeed, he was to open the scoring after nine minutes. Javi Martinez forced a corner from Pinto, but Toquero rose highest from the set-piece, foxing Xavi and Keita, to head home. Pep Guardiola's side struggled to fight they way back into the game after that, with Bojan looking out of sorts and Samuel Eto'o allowing Fernando Amorebieta to catch up with him and rob him of a one-on-one when it seemed easier to shoot. But midway through the first half the Blaugrana began to come alive, Gorka Iraizoz making a quick reaction save from Eto'o in the 25th minute. The equaliser came just after the half hour mark, and it was one worth waiting for. Yaya Toure strode past two Athletic players before rounding Amorebieta and drilling a lovely 20-yard effort in just next to the far post. Then Dani Alves, whose set-piece form had deserted him prior to this evening, came close to making it 2-1 with a free kick on the stroke of half time. Even though the break imposed on proceedings, Barcelona were clearly in the ascendancy, and ten minutes after the restart took the lead through Lionel Messi, who placed a shot past Iraizoz after the stopper had parried a Samuel Eto'o effort. A moment of controversy followed as Daniel Alves, preparing to take a throw-in, fell to the ground after being hit by a flying drink can, and although the police escorted a man from the Athletic side of the stadium it was unclear who actually threw it. Undaunted, Barcelona went 3-1 up through Bojan, who netted on the counter with a lovely curling effort, in off the post. Five minutes later Xavi side-footed a beautiful free kick in off the post to make the lead insurmountable, and Barcelona were on their way to the podium. Indeed, there was just one more chance worthy of the name for the Basques, Llorente scuffing a free header wide, and in fact Dani Alves and Samuel Eto'o could have extended the lead before the end. Barcelona now will look to gain both Liga and Champions League glory to go with their record tally of Copas.


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