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Barcelona thrash Sevilla to win King’s Cup again

Madrid, April 22: FC Barcelona saw stellar performances from superstar striker Lionel Messi and star midfielder Andres Iniesta in a 5-0 rout of Sevilla in the final of the Copa del Rey, Spain’s annual football cup competition.
Ernesto Valverde’s men delivered a much better performance during Saturday night’s final than they did in the Champions League quarter-finals earlier this month, when they were eliminated by AS Roma after being stunned 3-0 in the second leg, reports Efe news agency.
Sevilla, by contrast, put up much less opposition than they did in the 2016 Copa del Rey final, when the Catalans won 2-0 on the strength of two extra-time goals.
On Saturday night at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Barça essentially put the game out of reach in the first half with two goals by Luis Suarez and another by Messi.
Barcelona opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Philippe Coutinho gathered a long goal kick by Jasper Cillessen, dribbled the ball nearly to the Sevilla goal line and put the ball on a tee for Suarez, who scored into an empty net.
Messi then got in on the action at the 31-minute mark, receiving a back-heeled pass from Jordi Alba and scoring at close range.
Nine minutes later, the Argentine superstar set up the third goal with a perfectly placed pass to Suarez, who nosed his way in front of a trio of defenders and then scored past Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria.
The Sevilla head coach tried to inject some life into his team after the intermission by inserting striker Sandro Ramirez for midfielder Joaquin Correa, but Barça’s domination continued over the final 45 minutes.
Messi also assisted in the fourth goal in the 52nd minute, finding Iniesta on a pass that the Spanish midfielder corralled inside the area before manoeuvering around Soria and sending a shot into the back of the net.
Barça then got one final goal on a penalty converted by Coutinho in the 69th minute.
A long 20 minutes still remained on the clock for Sevilla, which at least was able to keep its opponent scoreless over that stretch.
With the win, Barça extended its record haul of Copa del Rey titles to 30.
Afterward, FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu said that Messi was the club’s best player but that Iniesta, the team’s captain, was its most important member.
The 33-year-old Iniesta is weighing whether to remain at Barcelona or make a lucrative move to the Chinese league, although he is expected to choose the latter option. IANS

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Ankur Kalita