International Sports

Messi, Neymar win Copa del Rey final for Barca

Sports, International (Madrid), May 28:- Argentine Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar, with one goal each against Alaves, were responsible for winning FC Barcelona’s third straight Copa del Rey tourney 3-1.

The two unstoppable players wrapped up the match just before halftime at the Vicente Calderon Stadium here on Saturday night.

After failing to win the La Liga championship and eliminated in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, the Barcelona squad nonetheless closed the Luis Enrique era — this was his last game as Barca’s head coach — by winning their third straight Copa del Rey title, a consolation prize for a team with no trophy in the big competitions this season, Efe news agency reported.

With both Luis Suarez and Sergi Roberto injured, Luis Enrique opted to play Paco Alcacer in attack and Javier Mascherano at right back.

Alcacer nodded a header just wide after five minutes, but Mascherano’s game ended before the tenth minute following a clash of heads with Marcos Llorente which left him bleeding badly from a head cut and he was replaced by Andre Gomes, although it was possibly his fall damaging a knee rather than the cut which was the reason for the change.

As expected, Alaves looked to defend effectively while trying to hit Barca on the break and the first half produced a fascinating contrast in styles.

Ibai Gomez hit the Barca post in the 27th minute with a shot which then ran agonisingly along the goal-line before bouncing clear, while at the other end Fernando Pacheco reacted well to stop a deflected shot from Andres Iniesta.

Alaves held off Barca until half an hour through the first half, when the game changed thanks to the efficiency and talent of Lionel Messi and Neymar.

First it was Messi, who took a pass at the edge of the box from Neymar and left-footed it into the net for a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.

It was the 52nd goal of the season in all competitions for Messi. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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