Real claim Supercopa with Barcelona victory

Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 in the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa to triumph on away goals, after coming into the game 3-2 down from the first encounter.

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Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain (C) scores past Barcelona's goalkeeper Victor Valdes during their Spanish Super Cup

An action-packed first half saw Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo put Real into a two-goal lead after just 20 minutes, before Barcelona were reduced to 10 men when Adriano saw red for a challenge on Ronaldo that prevented the Portuguese a clear scoring opportunity.

Lionel Messi pulled one back right on the stroke of half-time with an inspiring free-kick, but despite a second half that saw plenty of chances for both sides neither could add to the scoreline as it finished 2-1 to Jose Mourinho’s team on the night, 4-4 on aggregate.

Chasing the tie Real Madrid flew out of the blocks and Mourinho’s team completely dominated from the off, exuding energy, urgency and class as they tore through a disorganised and disorientated Barcelona. So poor were Tito Vilanova’s side at times in the opening 45 minutes that it was as painful as it was confusing to watch a side that has come to embody everything that is brilliant about the modern game.

Moments in, Higuain was denied by Victor Valdes, the Barca goalkeeper who barely had time to seal the velcro on his gloves. The manner in which the Argentine was played in was a warning sign for Barcelona of the unease of the defensive partnership between Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano, the latter stepping into the back line in place of the injured Carles Puyol.

A second chance came in the 11th minute for Higuain and he needed no repeat invitation. A hit-and-hope ball from Pepe was hacked at hopelessly by Mascherano, and the forward raced clear and put Real a goal up.

Mascherano’s rocky start got worse when he was booked for a foul on Angel Di Maria, as he struggled to keep pace with the speed and frequency of a Real attack which had sensed a genuine vulnerability in the opposing defence.

Hardly recovered from going a goal down Barcelona then found themselves with a deficit of two on the evening as Ronaldo looped the ball over Pique’s head with an audacious backheel, and he then proceeded to power it low past Valdes.

Higuain almost made it three before Barca’s evening got even more daunting with the dismissal of Adriano. With Ronaldo about to go clear and almost certainly make it three, the Brazilian brought him down and was given his marching orders. That came after Real had had a third goal disallowed after Pepe gave Mascherano the slightest of nudges at a free-kick before nodding past Valdes.

All this before half an hour had even passed, and there was more to come.

An uncharacteristically sloppy Barcelona continued to lose possession, something they usually manage to maintain with such ease, and the chances continued to flow. Sami Khedira had a point-blank volley saved by Valdes and Higuain should have had a second but for an excellently-timed sliding tackle from Mascherano.

Some semblance of the Barcelona better known appeared in the final five minutes of the half as Andres Iniesta began to pull a few strings, and when Xabi Alonso gave away a free-kick 35 yards out there was a sense of opportunity, however slim.

What followed was sublime as Messi, who until that point had been most notable for a heavy foul on Pepe, curled a jaw-dropping effort around the outside of the wall and just inside the left post to pull one back on the stroke of half-time.

Barcelona emerged more composed for the second half and did manage to string together some passages of play better associated with them than what had been witnessed in the first 45 minutes, but the game remained precariously balanced with Real as much of a threat as they had been for the entire opening period.

Pedro was foiled by Iker Casillas after an excellently-timed run was met by an equally impressive pass from Mascherano, and Barca began to pick holes.

However there was danger at both ends as Khedira was again stopped by Valdes and Higuain hit the post when he should have buried one of the many chances that came his way.

There was time enough for Luka Modric to make his Real Madrid debut and the former Tottenham man almost made it a scoring one, and there was a frantic three minutes of additional time in which Barcelona failed to snatch the Supercopa as Messi curled a fierce shot inches wide.

It was Real Madrid’s evening however and they held firm to claim the first silverware of the season, and give a preview of what can be expected when these sides meet in the league.

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