Lionel Messi lifted his first trophy as the new Barcelona captain – his record breaking 33rd as a Barca player – as Ernesto Valverde’s team won the Spanish Super Cup beating Sevilla 2-1.
No one has won more silverware in Barcelona’s history than the Argentine but this victory in Tangiers’ Stade Ibn Battouta was largely thanks to the club’s forgotten man Ousmane Dembele.
The French international’s spectacular goal 12 minutes from time settled the first ever Spanish Super Cup played outside of Spain. It came after Gerard Pique had cancelled out Pablo Sarabia’s opening goal.
It seemed Barcelona had written-off Dembele this summer when they first pursued Chelsea’s Willian and eventually signed Malcom from Bordeaux – both players play in the former Dortmund winger’s position.
Despite interest from clubs including Arsenal, Dembele remained at Barcelona beyond the closing of the Premier League window and when his shot from the edge of the area flew past Sevilla keeper Tomas Vaclik off the underside of the bar he had sealed the Catalans’ first trophy of the season.
Sevilla could have equalized late on when Marc-Andre ter Stegen was harshly adjudged to have brought down Aleix Vidal but the German keeper saved Wissam Ben Yedder’s poor spot kick.
Sevilla opened the scoring when Luis Muriel turned Gerard Pique one way and the other before playing in the unmarked Pablo Sarabia, who curled a left-foot shot past Ter Stegen.
The flag was immediately raised but after consulting VAR Sarabia was shown to be onside and the offside decision was overruled.
Barcelona almost responded immediately when Dembele played a clever short corner to Messi but his shot was saved by Vaclik. The Sevilla keeper saved well again when Jordi Alba tried to beat him at his near post from Messi’s pass.
Sevilla threatened on the break and Sergio Busquets was booked for flattening Muriel as he raced clear. Sevilla were facing Clement Lenglet, the French centre-back who left them to join Barcelona in the summer. He almost equalised but failed to beat Vaclik with a header from Messi’s free-kick.
Barcelona finished the half strongly and Luis Suarez went close with a shot across the face of the Sevilla goal before the equaliser came. Barcelona’s new Brazilian signing Arthur Melo was fouled on the edge of the area by Ever Banega. Messi’s free-kick hit the foot of the post rebounded back on to the post from Vaclik’s dive and came out to Pique who swept it in.
Barcelona looked to build on their equaliser after the break with Ivan Rakitic on for Rafinha and Philippe Coutinho joining in on 53 minutes when he replaced Arthur.
Messi still carried the biggest threat and it was his free-kick after he had been fouled that Vaclik had to punch away.
At the other end Franco Vazquez headed on to the top of the bar from a corner. Sevilla brought on loan signing Andre Silva to lead the line in Muriel’s place. Aleix Vidal also entered the fray against the team he left two weeks ago.
Dembele shot weakly from Messi’s assist and Silva laid on a chance for Jesus Navas but he also failed to get any power in the finish.
Vaclik then made a fine double save from Messi and Suarez. But just as it seemed there would be no way through, Dembele struck to settle the game and give Barcelona their first trophy of the season.