Ronald Koeman won his first trophy as Barcelona boss on Saturday night as the Blaugrana triumphed 4-0 over Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey final played at Estadio de La Cartuja.
It was Lionel Messi’s 11th appearance in the Copa final and he scored twice to win his 35th title as a Barcelona player since he made his debut in 2004.
The loss made it a double disappointment for Athletic Club after they had lost the rescheduled 2019/20 Copa del Rey final on April 3 to Real Sociedad.
The first half was fought mostly in the Athletic half after a frantic start from both teams.
Barcelona settled and took complete control of the ball and as at the fifth minute, Barcelona had 98% of ball possession. Marcelino set up his team in a low block to deny Barcelona forwards space behind their defenders and produced some niggly tackles on Messi, to slow the great man down.
Frenkie De Jong hit the crossbar off a pass from Messi in the fifth minute as Barcelona made their intentions known.
Sergio Busquets was lucky to escape a yellow card in the 10th minute for a high tackle on Unai Lopez. Inigo Martinez almost gave Athletic a surprise lead from a corner in the 12th minute. Messi was left protesting rough treatment in the 35th minute but try as much as they did, Athletic remained unbreachable as the first half ended 0-0.
At the start of the second half, Marcelino sent on Inigo Lekue in place of captain Muniain. Unai Simon made a great save from a Busquet’s shot on 52 minutes as the Catalans cranked up the pressure.
The pressure finally told on the hour as Antoine Griezmann gave Barcelona the breakthrough goal off a pass from De Jong and three minutes later, Barcelona doubled their lead with De Jong getting on the end of a cross from Jordi Alba.
The flood gates were truly opened as Messi got in on the act with the third when he exchanged passes with De Jong before passing it into the net.
The party candles were truly lit in the 72nd minute when Alba found Messi again and the Argentine slid the ball home even though Simon got a hand on the effort but he could not stop it going into the net.
Koeman now has his first title as Barcelona manager and he can now focus his team on chasing the La Liga title, even though they are two points off Atletico Madrid with eight matches left in the season.
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