Spanish champions Barcelona have won the Copa del Rey for a 28th time after beating Europa League holders Sevilla 2-0 in the final at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday night.
Both teams had players sent off in what was a cagey 90 minutes of action, but Barcelona came strong in extra-time and goals from Jordi Alba and Neymar ensured that the Catalan giants would complete a domestic double.
Sevilla, who stay on five Copa del Rey titles, ran Luis Enrique‘s side close for long spells, but ultimately finished the match with nine men when Daniel Carrico was given his marching orders for a late challenge onLionel Messi in the 121st minute.
There were no surprises in the Barcelona XI that took to the field, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen once again selected between the sticks and Ivan Rakitic starting against his former club in what was a routine 4-3-3 formation.
Sevilla boss Unai Emery, however, did make changes from the Europa League final. David Soria andSteven N’Zonzi both dropped out, with the former’s spot being taken by Sergio Rico and the suspended N’Zonzi replaced by Vicente Iborra.
Adil Rami passed a late fitness test to start at centre-back, while Benoit Tremoulinas‘s absence handedSergio Escudero another start at left-back. Coke‘s brace against Liverpool in the Europa League final kept his spot on the right of midfield, while Kevin Gameiro once again led the line for the Red and Whites.
Indeed, Gameiro’s pace stretched Barcelona in the early exchanges, but a Luis Suarez effort, which just missed the post, was the closest that either side came to scoring in the opening eight minutes of action.
Sevilla’s first half-chance came in the 17th minute when Vitolo set up Coke with a wonderful piece of skill, but the Spaniard could not make proper contact and Barcelona eventually forced it clear after Ter Stegen palmed away an Escudero cross.
Dani Alves hit one from 30 yards as Barcelona continued to dominate possession at the Vicente Calderon, but the right-back’s effort, which came on the half-hour mark, was always moving wide of the post.
The match firmly swung in Sevilla’s favour in the 37th minute, however, when Javier Mascherano was sent off for bringing Gameiro to the deck with a last-man challenge just outside the penalty box. Ever Banega curled the resulting free kick towards the top corner, but Ter Stegen was across to make a fine save.
Sevilla were the team pressing for the opening goal as the first period approached its latter stages, but Barcelona came close to registering in the final minute of the half when Gerard Pique met a corner from Rakitic, only to see his header fly wide of Rico’s post.
Sevilla made a bright start to the second period and came close to registering in the 51st minute when Banega struck one from just outside the Barcelona box, but Pique deflected the ball onto the foot of the post.
There was more good news for Sevilla in the 57th minute when the deadliest striker in Europe this season, Suarez, was forced to leave the field with a hamstring problem after overstitching just outside the penalty box.
Sevilla came close to the breakthrough when Grzegorz Krychowiak ran onto a loose ball inside the Barcelona box 25 minutes from time, but Sergio Busquets somehow deflected it wide of the post.
Messi then had a free kick in prime position 15 minutes from time as Barcelona enjoyed a rare venture forward, but the Argentine fired straight into the arms of Rico as it remained all square entering the final stages of normal time.
Sevilla were also reduced to 10 men in the second minute of added time at the end of the 90 when Banega brought Neymar to the deck with a clumsy challenge, but Messi’s resulting free kick was comfortable for Rico in what was the final opportunity of normal time in the Spanish capital.
The breakthrough finally came seven minutes into extra-time when Messi delivered a stunning pass into Alba, who held off the challenge of Vitolo before finishing past Rico for his first goal of the season.
Barcelona might have had a second five minutes later when Messi curled a free kick towards the top corner, but Rico was on hand to make the save and keep a tired Sevilla in the battle. Rico was then forced into two equally impressive stops to keep out efforts from Pique and Alves as Barcelona threatened a second.
Sevilla boss Emery threw on Fernando Llorente in a bid to force penalties, but the Red and Whites were reduced to nine men in the 121st minute when Carrico dived into Messi and Barcelona scored a second through Neymar moments later to add gloss to the victory and secure the crown once again.