Pep goes out on a high
Pedro nets double to down Atletic Bilbao
Last Updated: May 25, 2012 11:10pm
Happy exit: Guardiola celebrates winning 14th trophy with Barca
Barcelona gave outgoing manager Pep Guardiola a triumphant send-off after lifting the Copa Del Rey with a 3-0 final victory over Athletic Bilbao.
Pedro netted a double at the Vicente Calderon, scoring either side of a 20th-minute Lionel Messi strike to seal the comprehensive win in what was Guardiola's last match in charge.
The triumph ends the coach's illustrious career at Camp Nou on a high after the Catalan giants missed out on the Primera Liga title to Real Madrid, with the cup triumph marking his 14th trophy in four years at Barca.
Messi broke free inside the first 30 seconds and fired a warning shot inches past Iraizoz's right-hand post before Pedro also had a goalbound effort defected just wide.
However, from the resulting corner Pique's header rebounded off Javi Martinez and fell perfectly for Pedro to sweep home his 12th goal of the season.
Barca were completely dominant in the opening quarter and Messi nearly had a spectacular second when his curling effort from just outside the area was clawed away at full stretch by Iraizoz while Xavi also fired just over from range.
The killer second goal was coming, though, and it arrived after 20 minutes thanks to a brilliant defence-splitting pass from Andres Iniesta which put Messi in the clear, and even on his weaker right foot the brilliant forward gave Iraizoz no chance.
Four minutes later it was three as Pique played a quick free-kick into Messi and his pass was stroked home clinically from 20 yards by Pedro.
Athletic had to wait 26 minutes for their first attempt on goal as Jose Manuel Pinto parried Markel Susaeta's fierce drive to safety but moments later the Basque side had a major reason for complaint as Llorente appeared to be felled by Pique when clean through on goal.
The defender certainly appeared to have a hold of his Spain colleague's shirt and would most likely have been sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity had the penalty been awarded.
Ibai Gomez had Athletic's best chance of the game six minutes into the second half as Ander Herrera played him in behind Adriano but his chip over Pinto floated just wide.
Messi then nearly capped another classic performance with 20 minutes remaining as he dashed past five Athletic defenders before Iraizoz blocked his low effort and no Barca player was following up to take advantage of the rebound.
Athletic had one final chance to get a consolation goal but Jon Aurtenetxe's wayward header when completely unmarked at the back post summed up their evening as Barca comfortably saw out the final moments to claim their 26th Copa del Rey title.
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