Messi dazzles in Super Cup triumph
FC Barcelona enjoyed the perfect preparation for the defence of their Liga title by lifting the Spanish Super Cup with a 4-0 second-leg victory against Sevilla FC, a Lionel Messi hat-trick helping Josep Guardiola's side to a 5-3 aggregate triumph.
Featuring six changes to the team that lost the corresponding fixture 3-1 at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán a week earlier, the Azulgrana quickly set about reversing the deficit with Abdoulay Konko putting through his own net before Messi scored twice before the break. The Argentina striker completed the scoring with his third in added time.
The defeat was the second in succession for Antonio Álvarez's team, who suffered a 1-0 reverse in their UEFA Champions League play-off opener away to SC Braga on Wednesday. Displaying some of the free-flowing football that won them a 20th league championship, Barça took the lead at the Camp Nou on 14 minutes when Konko diverted Pedro Rodríguez's centre past Andrés Palop.
It was to get worse for the visitors ten minutes later when, with a trademark defence-splitting pass, Xavi Hernández sent Messi clear to calmly level the aggregate score. The hosts continued to probe for openings as the half progressed and following a forward run down the flank, Daniel Alves found Messi, who jinked to the right before slamming a shot into the roof of the net.
The three-time European champions introduced FIFA World Cup winners Andrés Iniesta and David Villa after the break and both spurned decent opportunities to further the lead. Instead it was Messi again who sent the home fans into raptures, confirming Barça's ninth domestic Super Cup by sliding in Iniesta's cut-back.
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