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I saw a very good Bilbao side: Barcelona boss Enrique

AP , Tuesday 18 Aug 2015
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique (Reuters)
Views: 1114
Views: 1114

Athletic Bilbao ended a 31-year trophy drought with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Monday, claiming the Spanish Super Cup with a 5-1 aggregate victory over the reigning European champions.

After Bilbao's stunning 4-0 win in Friday's first leg, Barcelona threatened a comeback when Lionel Messi put the hosts ahead a minute before halftime. But their hopes of an improbable turnaround diminished when Gerard Pique earned a rash red card for screaming in the face of a line judge in the 56th.

That helped Bilbao withstand the onslaught before Aritz Aduriz netted the equalizer in the 74th, adding to the striker's hat trick on Friday.

Bilbao also finished with 10 men after Kike Sola was sent off in the 86th for a challenge on Javier Mascherano.

Bilbao won its last title in 1984, when it beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa del Rey final to complete a double of cup and league trophies. The Super Cup traditionally pits last season's league winners against the cup champion — but since Barcelona won both, Bilbao played courtesy of its runner-up finish in the Copa del Rey.

"We have been waiting for this for a long time," said Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde. "Generations of players have passed through Athletic since those league and cup titles of the 1980s. We knew it would arrive eventually."

The result means Barcelona can't match the six titles it won in a single calendar year under Pep Guardiola in 2009. Last week, Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup after completing a rare treble of the Champions League, Spanish League and Copa del Rey last season, and it will play in the Club World Cup in December.

Luis Enrique's Barcelona won't have to wait long to try and avenge the defeat. His side travels back to Bilbao to start their defense of the Spanish league title on Sunday.

After losing to Barcelona's collection of international stars in three Copa del Rey finals since 2009, the win is quite an achievement for a club that only fields homegrown players from the northern Basque Country or neighboring territories.

And its players savored the moment with the smattering of fans wearing their red-and-white shirts after the final whistle.

"This makes up for those finals we lost to Barca," said Valverde. "It isn't a league or a cup, but this has an enormous value for us. There will no better place than Bilbao for a party tonight."

With its pride stung and nothing to lose, Barcelona showed the verve it lacked from the first leg right from the start. But missed chances and bad tempers soon quashed any slim hopes of a comeback.

"I saw a very good Bilbao side, and we were seeing a very good final until Gerard was sent off," Luis Enrique said.

Pedro Rodriguez had Barcelona's first chance when he blasted the ball high from close range. Moments later, Pique began his frequent incursions into attack and smashed the ball off the bar in the sixth minute.

The Camp Nou crowd finally erupted when Messi broke through just before the break after Luis Suarez chested Ivan Rakitic's cross down for the forward to poke past goalie Gorka Iraizoz.

But instead of unsettling Bilbao, it was Barcelona that came undone. The team paid dearly for Pique's outburst at the line judge for what the Spain defender thought was an offside situation that wasn't flagged.

Aduriz sealed the result against the undermanned back line when he was left unmarked and with enough time to put his own rebound.

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