Crisis, which crisis? Ronald Koeman wins his first trophy as Barcelona boss with his riot against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final, while Lionel Messi scores two and Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong join in.
- Barcelona faced Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday
- Ronald Koeman’s men dominated but were frustrated in the first half and went scoreless
- Four goals in 12 minutes blew Bilbao away, with Antoine Griezmann first
- Frenkie De Jong added a close-range header for a sublime dribble from Leo Messi
- Messi hit a low shot for four to give Koeman his first title as Barca boss
Another final, two more brilliant goals and another winner’s medal – was it Lionel Messi’s last in a Barcelona shirt? It didn’t look like it, as he celebrated winning the Spanish Cup with a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
It should also be noted that at 33 years old he ran from the center line to start and finish the move that yielded the brilliant third goal. He also scored fourth and he celebrated it all as a man, not checking out, but ready to extend his stay.
Messi’s first, Barça’s third, was as good a goal as you’ll see in any final. He led the attack from just inside the Athletic half, swapping passes twice with Frenkie de Jong before sending one last defender, Unai Nunez, and sending the ball past Unai Simon.
Barcelona was emphatically crowned champions of the Copa del Rey on Saturday in Seville
The Catalans revolted in the second half with four goals in 12 minutes to sink Athletic Bilbao
Lionel Messi was at his dazzling best, adding another mazy dribble to his stunning highlight reel
It was nothing more than that Barcelona deserved to have dominated the first half without scoring and if Messi were man-of-the-match, De Jong was not far behind in setting up the first and scoring the second.
It was on the hour when Messi pulled the Athletic swarm towards him and then released De Jong through the right side. He crossed to Antoine Griezmann and the Frenchman turned the ball past Simon. Four minutes later there were two and this time De Jong dotted the i’s.
Jordi Alba was leading from the left. It bounced once and De Jong crouched to dive it past Simon.
Athletic held up well in the first half, but when the locks opened, they crumbled badly
As a result, Bilbao lost two Copa finals in two weeks and also fell short in the 2020 climax
Then came Messi’s masterpiece and he got a quick second, driving Jordi Alba’s cross home. Griezmann thought he had added a fifth, but VAR decided the goal for offside. Athletic was saved from further punishment by the final whistle. The longer the game lasted, the worse the score would have been.
Barcelona should have started scoring in the first half. There were barely three minutes when Sergio Busquets put the ball over the top for Messi and he crossed to De Jong who hit the post.
Messi was pumped up and he played an incredible pass through a busy area to Griezmann, who in turn withdrew the ball to Messi whose shot was saved.
When Athletic Bilbao finally threatened, it came off a set-piece with Alex Berenguer’s lateral free kick almost handed in by Iñigo Martinez – he put his toe on it but couldn’t send it past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Ronald Koeman has overcome a rocky start to his Barca return and has now won silverware
Jordi Alba was one of Barcelona’s best players and a constant threat from the left
At 20 minutes, Messi zigzagged into the penalty area again, but this time his shot was saved by Simon. Possession now turned around 89-11 in favor of Barcelona, but they still hadn’t made it pay.
Ronald Koeman did let Ronald Araujo warm up, but it didn’t seem to be because Gerard Pique was fit again and had a problem – twice suppressing the danger created by Iñaki Williams attempting to launch a counterattack.
Messi had saved another shot this time by Yeray Alvarez who blocked his attempt after playing a smart two with the impressive Oscar Mingueza.
Halfway through the first half, mood started to shorten. Dani Garcia flattened Messi and he lay down for treatment for several minutes. It was the constant mistakes in the Spanish Supercup in January that led to him being sent off for the first time in a Barcelona shirt.
Barcelona was frustrated in the first half, with Griezmann missing a big chance from close range
Goalkeeper Unai Simon kept his side in the game with two crucial saves with his feet in the first half
He was furious when he got up and saw that there had been no yellow for the offender. The absence of a map also meant that Messi had to leave and come back again.
Referee Jose Luis Munuera booked Dani Garcia for his next foul on Messi, but Barelona was furious again as this time they believed there was an advantage to play with Alba sprinting down the left.
Athletic was still a danger at the break and Williams ran into space but Ter Stegen saved his cross.
Messi started the second half when he finished first and released Sergino Dest over the right side. He went for Griezmann, but Simon saved his shot from six meters away.
Messi could be heading to Barcelona this summer, but fans will hope this isn’t his last glory
Griezmann then turned by hitting Pedri, whose shot was turned around his post by Simon.
This became the Athletic goalkeepers’ final and he saved again with the same left foot that frustrated Griezmann this time denying Busquets falling back when firing from the box.
Of all the chances that Barcelona had formed in the first area, it was the best… until the hour when Griezmann finally defeated Simon and the locks opened wide.