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Friday, Aug. 19, 2011

Barcelona beats Real Madrid with late winner from Messi

AP

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored a late winner as Barcelona won its 10th Spanish Supercup with a dramatic 3-2 victory over bitter rival Real Madrid on Wednesday that ended with players from both clubs brawling on the Nou Camp pitch.

Messi volleyed Adriano's cross past Iker Casillas in the 87th minute to finish off a move started by recent arrival Cesc Fabregas, who made his Barcelona debut as a late substitute and helped his new club to a 5-4 win on aggregate in the two-legged series.

But a dramatic, up-tempo match in which Messi scored two goals and Madrid twice rallied to equalize descended into a scrum in injury time as tensions on the hot, humid night reached a climax after Madrid defender Marcelo's hasty challenge on Fabregas.

Players pushed and shoved each other after the ugly tackle in front of the benches, with Madrid coach Jose Mourinho appearing to put his hand into Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova's eye during the melee.

After the players and coaching staff were separated and three red cards were brandished, Barcelona lifted its record-equaling third straight Supercup and first in five tries against Madrid. That gave Pep Guardiola his 11th major piece of silverware, surpassing Johan Cruyff to become the Catalan club's most successful coach.

Guardiola praised his "mythical" players, labeling the victory an "honor" and a "privilege."

"For a preseason game to be played at this level? That was enormous," Guardiola said after the match. "Even when we won 5-0 against them last year I never thought we were so superior. It's always been a very difficult matchup for the history between the clubs."

Barcelona displayed all the verve of the beautiful game that guided it to Spanish league and Champions League triumphs last season while Madrid showed no capitulation after being held to a frustrating 2-2 draw in the first leg it dominated.

"I won't say we're not happy about not winning the Supercup because that would make me a hypocrite. (But) I'm very happy with the evolution of the team," said Mourinho.

Despite Cristiano Ronaldo nearly putting the visitors ahead in the opening seconds, Barcelona scored first as Messi slipped a perfect through ball for Andres Iniesta to chip over goalkeeper Iker Casillas for the 15th-minute opener as Barcelona's pinpoint passing — led by playmaker Xavi Hernandez — exploited the space between Madrid's defensive lines.

Madrid stormed back five minutes later as Ronaldo steered Benzema's low cross beyond goalkeeper Victor Valdes for the Portugal forward's first goal in his fifth visit to the Camp Nou.

Messi then capped a superb Barcelona move in the 45th as Gerard Pique sent a short backheel pass inside the box and into the path of the Argentina forward who continued his run toward the right corner before sending a shot back over Casillas and inside the far post.

Madrid recovered and, soon after Sergio Ramos headed wide, Benzema was in a perfect poaching position to equalize again in the 81st.

But Messi capped the spectacular and spiteful match with his record eighth Supercup goal to move two ahead of former Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez as all-time leading scorer in the preseason series.



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