Athletic Bilbao on Monday ended a 31-year trophy drought with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona, claiming the Spanish Supercopa 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. However, 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 minute, adding to the striker’s hat-trick on Friday.
Bilbao also finished with 10 men after Kike Sola was sent off in the 86th minute for a challenge on Javier Mascherano.
Bilbao won their last title in 1984, when they beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa del Rey final to complete a double of cup and league trophies. The Supercopa 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,” Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde said.
“Generations of players have passed through Athletic since those league and cup titles of the 1980s. We knew it would arrive eventually,” he added.
The result means Barcelona cannot match the six titles they won in a single calendar year under Pep Guardiola in 2009. Last week, Barcelona won the UEFA Supercopa after completing a rare treble of the Champions League, Spanish League and Copa del Rey last season, and are to play in the Club World Cup in December.
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona will not have to wait long to try and avenge the defeat. His side travel 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.
Bilbao 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,” Valverde said. “It isn’t a league or a cup, but this has an enormous value for us. There will be no better place than Bilbao for a party tonight.”
With their pride stung and nothing to lose, Barcelona showed the verve they lacked from the first leg right from the start. However, missed opportunities 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.
However, 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 was not flagged.
Aduriz sealed the result against the undermanned back line when he was left unmarked and with enough time to put his own rebound.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
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