Barcelona earned a thrilling 5-4 UEFA Super Cup victory over Sevilla on Tuesday evening in Tbilisi, capped off by Pedro’s extra-time goal in what could be his last appearance for the Catalan club. Inside Spanish Football’s Tom Conn recaps the pulsating match, and the latest on the Pedro exit rumours.
Barcelona were looking to win their fourth title of the 2015 calendar year, while Sevilla were looking to channel their 2006 side that upset the Catalans to come away with the UEFA Super Cup – while also avenging last season’s loss to Real Madrid in Cardiff.
Barcelona came out with their strongest side for the match, featuring Luis Suarez and Leo Messi in attack, but manager Luis Enrique chose not to start Manchester United target Pedro Rodriguez in place of Neymar, leading to speculation that the Canary Islander may have played his final game for the Blaugrana, which was later confirmed by sporting director Roberto Fernandez, but then disputed by the player.
Sevilla had already suffered several injuries during their pre-season campaign but Unai Emery remained confident that despite the absenses of several key players, the Andalusians were so familiar with Barcelona that they planned to take advantage of every weakness the Catalans showed.
The quality of the two sides was on display from the very beginning, with Ever Banega curling a free-kick into the top corner before Messi repeated the trick – twice – all inside the first 16 minutes.
Further goals from Rafinha and Luis Suarez either side of half-time gave Barcelona a 4-1 lead and it looked like they’d coast to victory, but Jose Antonio Reyes, Kevin Gameiro and new signing Yevhen Konoplyanka all hit the back of the net as Sevilla clawed back to 4-4 with nine minutes remaining.
Having fought back and forth for 90 minutes the two sides took the match into extra time, where the trophy was won for Barcelona by the unlikliest of heroes as Pedro Rodriguez (potentially) capped off his career with the Catalans by winning them yet another trophy in a rebound off Messi’s shot in the dying minutes.
Luis Enrique brought the 28-year-old into the game in extra-time and the Canary Islander’s winning goal was his second UEFA Super Cup-winning goal of his Barcelona career.
After the match, Pedro would not confirm or deny his transfer request or if he will remain with the club, but contrary to Fernandez’s comments to TV3, stated that he wished he’d been named the starter and doesn’t yet know where his future lies.
“In the end, I scored the goal but it’s the work of the entire team and I’m happy with the victory, another title and to be able to experience these great moments with this great club.
“When you know you could leave, it’s a difficult situation. I was disappointed to not start in this game but as I’m a professional, I went out and helped the team. You always want to play, I had a lot of opportunities to play because of what happened to Neymar, but the manager chose Rafa.
“Do I want to leave? No, but it’s difficult because of many factors. It’s not because of money, as they’ve said, which is another lack of respect to me. It’s a matter of minutes, I’m an ambitious player. Whether I stay or go, I’ll always be with this team.
“I’m happy with the title and the game. I never said what Roberto Fernandez said I told him, and most certainly not in the way he said it. I’m calm, happy and I’ll always continue to give my all if I decide to stay with this club. The truth is that I had a great chance of starting, especially because of Neymar’s absense, but I didn’t. The manager decided to not to count on me. I don’t know, I don’t know if I’ll stay or go. I’m here now and I want to enjoy this title for right now.”
Pedro then discussed a possible move to Manchester United but still remains on the fence about leaving the Camp Nou.
“Manchester? Yes, there are great challenges in every direction. I’m here now and I’m happy. And if I leave, I go with my head held high as I gave everything I possibly could while I was here. These fans and this club are incredible.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique became the fourth man to win the UEFA Super Cup as a player and a coach with his side’s 5-4 victory over Sevilla.
In his post-match interview via UEFA, Enrique analysed the win and praised Sevilla for coming back from a 4-1 deficit to take the match to extra time, but stressed that his side needs to learn a lesson from the win and not lower their guard, no matter what lead they have.
“It’s hard to win any trophy and this match showed that. The game was really difficult for us at the beginning – we started off falling behind but came back against difficult opponents. It was really tough. We’re really happy about the trophy, for ourselves, the players and supporters. Sevilla reacted really well. We now have to think about the Spanish Super Cup [against Athletic Club on Friday and Monday].
“Clearly when you’re winning 4-1 your opponents have nothing to lose. What we need to do, though, is analyse what happened after that and how they got back into the match, through a penalty and some attacks down the flanks. It happens. We were winning 2-0 at Sevilla [in the Liga last term] and they came back. People think Barça win automatically but that’s not the case. We should be proud of these players.”
Luis Enrique went on to explain his reasons for not starting Manchester United target Pedro, who was expected to start for the ill Neymar but was surprisingly left on the bench.
“Pedro has some problems with his adductor muscle and you know about his current status so I picked the man I thought would be best in the circumstances [Rafinha] and I would do the same again. I understand why you’re interested [in Pedro’s situtation] but I’m not going to say any more about it.”
Luis Enrique then concluded by praising the fans for their incredible support after travelling such a long distance to Tbilisi, Georgia, and the players for bringing their fourth title in 2015 back to the club.
“We had to fly a long way but we had great support and an excellent pitch. We were delighted with the welcome and the organisation and when you win you’re even happier!”
Barcelona 5-4 Sevilla
Referee: William Collum
Barcelona XI: ter Stegen, Piqué, Dani Alves, Mascherano (93′), Mathieu, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta (63′), Rafinha (78′), Suárez, Messi
Subs: Sergi Roberto (63′), Bartra (78′), Pedro (93′)
Goals: Messi (7′, 16′), Rafinha (44′), Suarez (52′), Pedro (115′)
Yellow Cards: Mathieu (71′), Pedro (94′), Busquets (117′), Alves (120′)
Sevilla XI: Beto, Trémoulinas, Rami, Coke, Krychowiak, Krohn-Dehli, Iborra (80′), Reyes (68′), Banega, Vitolo, Gameiro (80′)
Subs: Konoplyanka (68′), Immobile (80′), Mariano (80′)
Goals: Banega (3′), Reyes (57′), Gameiro (72’p), Konoplyanka (81′)
Yellow Cards: Krychowiak (14′), Coke (87′), Banega (90′), Immobile (92′), Krohn-Dehli (120′)
This content originally appeared on Inside Spanish Football.