Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo struck first-half goals as Real Madrid beat 10-man Barcelona 2-1 to lift the Spanish Super Cup before a full house at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
With the previous Thursday’s first leg at the Camp Nou having ended in a 3-2 Barca victory, Madrid took the title on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.
All the action came in an exciting first half, where Lionel Messi replied with a brilliant free-kick for Barcelona, who had previously lost Adriano to a straight red card for a foul on Ronaldo when he was the last defender.
It was a timely success for Madrid, who have already fallen five points behind archrivals Barca in La Liga after a draw and a loss in their first two games.
“The team went out well from the start and created chances, got the goals and then they [Barcelona] went down to 10 men,” Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka said. “After all that, the result was a lot closer than we expected, but we’re happy to lift the trophy. We got a reaction from our players and that’s the important thing.”
Barca coach Tito Vilanova said he was pleased with his players’ response after a difficult start.
“I congratulate Madrid on their win, but I felt proud of our performance with only 10 men, especially in the second half, where we had five good chances to level the game,” Vilanova said.
With the tie finely balanced, both sides started with near full-strength teams.
Real coach Jose Mourinho kept faith with Higuain, who had scored in consecutive league games, leaving Karim Benzema on the bench with Luka Modric, who made his first appearance for Madrid after signing on Monday.
Barca had to cope with a problem just before kickoff when Jordi Alba replaced Dani Alves, who seemed to pick up an injury in the warm-up.
Madrid were quick out of the blocks and goalkeeper Victor Valdes made a superb block from Higuain on seven minutes to stop a certain opener, but three minutes later he could do nothing in a similar situation after Javier Mascherano had misjudged the flight of a long ball out of defense from Pepe. Again Higuain found himself in space and this time he slotted home.
Marcelo then went close, before Ronaldo doubled Madrid’s lead on 18 minutes.
Again it was a long ball out of defense that troubled Barca. This time Gerard Pique failed to clear a Sami Khedira ball and the Portuguese star pounced on the loose ball to advance on goal and finally, after a quick check-back, beat Valdes with a low shot to claim Madrid’s second of the evening.
It got worse for Barca when Adriano received his marching orders on 27 minutes for a trip on Ronaldo, who was running on to another long ball out of defense.
Barca made their first real attack of the evening in the 36th minute, but nobody was able to connect with Andres Iniesta’s dangerous cross.
Messi then struck with a perfectly curled free-kick to reduce Madrid’s lead.
The second half could not continue at the same pace and, as Barca gained more possession and settled into a more comfortable passing game, chances became rare.
Pedro Rodriguez came close to leveling for Barca on 62 minutes, latching onto a long ball, only for Iker Casillas to stop brilliantly with his feet.
At the other end, Valdes saved from Khedira, but Barca were controlling the game, despite the numerical disadvantage, and the home crowd was getting restless.