Real beat 10-man Barca 2-1 to draw first blood
Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo struck first-half goals as Real Madrid beat 10-man Barcelona 2-1 to lift the Spanish Super Cup before a full house at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.
With last week’s first leg at Camp Nou having ended in a 3-2 Barca victory, Real took the title on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.
All the action came in an exciting first half, where Lionel Messi replied with a brilliant free-kick for Barcelona, who had previously lost Adriano to a straight red card for a last-man foul on Ronaldo.
It was a timely success for Real, who have already fallen five points behind arch rivals Barca in La Liga after a draw and a loss in their first two league games.
“The team went out well from the start and created chances, got the goals and then they (Bar-celona) went down to 10 men,” said Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka.
“After all that, the result was a lot closer than we expected, but we’re happy to lift the trophy. We got a reaction from our players and that’s the important thing.”
Barca coach Tito Vilanova said he was pleased with his players’ response after a difficult start.
“I congratulate Real on their win, but I felt proud of our performance with only 10 men, especially in the second half, where we had five good chances to level the game,” he said.
With the tie finely balanced, both sides started with near full-strength teams.
Real coach Jose Mourinho kept faith with Higuain, who had scored in consecutive league games, leaving Karim Benzema to start on the bench with Luka Modric, who made his first appearance for Real after signing on Monday.
Barca, however, had to cope with a problem just before kick-off when Jordi Alba replaced Dani Alves, who seemed to pick up an injury in the warm-up.
Modric was introduced to a standing ovation for his first taste of life as a Real Madrid player, Alex Song having earlier entered the fray to do the same for Barca.
What they both experienced was a frantic finish.
Messi came close to taking the title back to Catalunya in injury time with a cracking shot that flashed wide from the edge of the box, but Real Madrid held on to trigger joyous celebrations in the Spanish capital.
Real Madrid players celebrate after winning the Spanish Super Cup.