Barca claim Kings Cup in Guardiola swansong


Sat, 26 May 00:09:00 2012

* Pedro nets double for Barca, Messi also scores

* Guardiola ends with 14th trophy in four years

* Miserable end for Bilbao (Recasts with quote)

Barcelona gave Pep Guardiola a fitting end to his glittering four-year reign as coach winning the King's Cup final against Athletic Bilbao 3-0 on Friday to send him off with a 14th trophy under his arm.

Pedro scored a brace and the outstanding player of the Guardiola era, World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, added the other to finish with an unprecedented 73 goals in all competitions this season.

Guardiola hands over to his assistant Tito Vilanova for next season, as he goes off to recharge his batteries, after winning three consecutive La Liga titles, two Champions League crowns in 2009 and 2011, and two King's Cups.

His 14 trophies matches Johan Cruyff's tally from eight years as Barca coach, and of the 19 competitions he has competed in, it is easier to list the five he has failed to snare.

Guardiola lost the King's Cup final 1-0 after extra-time against Real Madrid last year and made a last 16 exit in 2010. He twice fell in the Champions League semi-finals to eventual winners Inter Milan and Chelsea.

In the league, Barca only lost out to Real to finish second earlier this month after Jose Mourinho's side broke the league points and goal-scoring record to top the standings.

"Winning 14 titles in four years is very difficult and we are very satisfied," a beaming Guardiola told a news conference."

For Bilbao, it completed a miserable end to a season in which they had thrilled with their dynamic brand of attacking football.

They reached the Europa League final, seeing off Manchester United and Schalke 04 along the way, to be crushed 3-0 by Atletico Madrid two weeks ago, before the heartache of a second final defeat, by the same score.

They take away the consolation of a place in the Europa League next season as the losing finalists, with Barca already qualified for the Champions League again.


As expected, a shortened version of the Spanish national anthem before kickoff was met with a cacophony of whistles from the Basque and Catalan nationalists among the fans.

That was quickly forgotten in a whirlwind opening at a festive Calderon in Madrid.

Messi curled a shot past the post in the first minute and Pedro had an effort deflected wide for a corner which led to the opening goal in only the third minute.

The diminutive forward swept in a loose ball in front of the ecstatic Barca fans.

Andres Iniesta slipped a ball through for Messi to score the second, the Argentine smashing a shot high into the net from a tight angle in the 20th minute and Bilbao were finished off soon after.

Pedro fired in a curling shot to end the game as a contest and boosted his chances of a call up to Spain's final 23-man squad for Euro 2012, which Vicente del Bosque is due to announce on Sunday.

As Barca peeled away to celebrate, some Bilbao players were already sinking to their knees.

Barca reserve goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto, who always plays instead of Victor Valdes in the Cup, made a couple of saves before the break, but Bilbao faded away as Barca hogged possession in their trademark style.

The victory set up a tough debut for Barca's incoming coach Vilanova, who will now take on arch-rivals and league champions Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in August, the traditional curtain-raiser to the new season.


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