Copa del Rey: Barca beat Alaves to send off Enrique on high
Copa Del Rey By: Collins Udeme | 27/05/2017
Barcelona gave Luis Enrique a befitting send-off as they beat Alaves 3-1 to win the Copa del Rey for a record 29th time in the Vicente Calderon’s last-ever game on Saturday.Alaves were holding Barcelona 1-1 after Theo erased Lionel Messi's 30th minute opener but the Catalans took a 3-1 lead into the break thanks to a late double from Neymar and Alcacer with Messi playing a big part in those two.The second half produced nothing as both sides failed to get on the score sheet with Barcelona holding on to their two goals cushion to see off the game and clinch their only trophy of the season.
Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique passed late fitness tests to start the Final, while Aleix Vidal appeared as a substitute for his first appearance since dislocating his ankle three months ago. However, Sergi Roberto and Luis Suarez were absent through suspension.FIRST HALFAlaves, meanwhile, were looking to lift the first Copa of their 96-year history, and an early chance saw Deyverson shake his man off in the Catalans’ box, but his cutback was intercepted before it could be tapped in by a teammate.Mascherano took a bloody gash to the head from Marcos Llorente in a mid-air collision, forcing him to leave the pitch on a stretcher, in what was possibly his last game for La Blaugrana.The Basques prevented their opponents from playing their usual passing game, albeit by stretching laws of the game, and Gerard Pique was caught napping when Ibai Gomez’s angled drive from the left deflected off Jasper Cillessen’s back, onto his near post, across the line but not over it.Straight at the other end, Paco Alcacer was denied from close range by Fernando Pacheco, but in trademark Messi fashion, the No 10 came in from the right, played a one-two with Neymar and bent a shot into the goalkeeper’s bottom-left corner.Yet Theo showed exactly why he was a reported target for both Barca and Real Madrid as he delightfully sent a free kick past Cillessen from around 25 yards out.Alaves seemingly did enough to take a 1-1 draw into the break, but Andre Gomes’ cutback was tucked away by Neymar at the far post.Moments later, Messi dribbled in from the right, before playing a superb, reverse ball for Alcacer to drill past Pacheco.With those, Neymar became the first player to score in three consecutive Copa finals since Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas in the 1960s, while Messi equalled Telmo Zarra by netting in four different Copa finals.SECOND HALFMessi almost helped himself to another assist, when Alcacer flung himself onto the Argentine’s cross at the far post, but the attacker was denied on the line by Pacheco.Samuel Umtiti almost gifted Alaves a route back into the game with a poor backpass, but Cillessen positioned himself in a way that let him clear the danger.An unmarked Ruben Sobrino hit a loose ball first time in the Barca box, but his volleyed strike was closed down by Gomes. Devyerson then had a scuffed shot pushed away by Cillessen at his near post.Devyerson did score when he blasted the ball past Cillessen, but his effort was correctly ruled out due to an offside flag.Sobrino shoved Neymar to the ground in Alaves’ box, but no penalty was given as Messi engaged in a pushing match with the former Manchester City striker, before Andres Iniesta protested to the referee, resulting in bookings all around.A long ball dropped awkwardly for Cillessen, but the goalkeeper again managed to punch it clear, just inside his box and in the nick of time.