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Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez inspired Barcelona to what will surely be the first part of a domestic double this season as they thrashed Sevilla 5-0 on Saturday to win the Copa del Rey.
Messi had scored once and Suarez twice before even the half-time whistle had blown at the Wanda Metropolitano, with the sublime Andres Iniesta and Philippe Coutinho later compounding Sevilla’s humiliation.
Barca’s exhilarating display earns them their 30th triumph in this competition and fourth in a row, having reached the final in each of the last five years.
But, despite hugs and high-fives at the end, the real celebrations will be put on ice until next Sunday, when victory over Deportivo La Coruna will confirm Ernesto Valverde’s side as La Liga champions too.
Even a clean sweep of the domestic trophies, perhaps polished by La Liga’s first ever unbeaten season, will not eradicate the lingering disappointment from Barca’s Champions League exit to Roma.
But this performance, as easy on the eye as it was emphatic, will certainly serve as a counter-point to those that believe Valverde’s team have been efficient, rather than exciting this season, and overly reliant on Messi.
“Winning the Cup does not hide the disappointment in Rome,” Suarez said after the match. “But at the beginning of the season anyone would have signed for a double.”
Messi was, of course, superb again on Saturday but this was not a one-man show. Suarez scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season while Iniesta (pictured) delivered one of those effortless displays, in which at times he was virtually unplayable.
If this is to be the 33-year-old’s last Barca final before departing for China, it was a fitting farewell, with only goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen absent from the 10-man huddle that engulfed the Spaniard following his shimmying fourth.
By the time Coutinho converted his penalty in the 69th minute, Barca were simply sharing the goals around. For Sevilla, defeat was always the most likely scenario but this was a whitewash.
Sitting eighth in La Liga, even Europa League qualification now looks an outside bet and there may be repercussions for coach Vincenzo Montella and some of his players in the summer. “Barcelona has been superior in everything, they have extra-terrestrial players,” Montella said. -AFP