Barcelona beats Athletic 2-1 in Spanish Supercup
Xavi Hernandez and Pedro Rodriguez scored in the second half to give Barcelona a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup. Barcelona was without Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic as it bids for the first of a possible six trophies this season.sports Updated: Aug 17, 2009 18:35 IST
Xavi Hernandez and Pedro Rodriguez scored in the second half to give Barcelona a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup.
After Oscar de Marcos opened for the hosts in the 45th minute at the San Mames stadium on Sunday, Pedro fed Xavi in the 59th for the equalizer. Pedro then sliced a long shot beyond goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz for the winner in the 68th.
Barcelona was without Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic as it bids for the first of a possible six trophies this season. Barcelona beat Athletic in the Copa del Rey final last season as part of its historic treble together with league and Champions League triumphs.
The second leg will be played at the Camp Nou on Aug 23.
As well as attempting to retain its three titles, Barcelona also meets UEFA Cup winner Shakhtar Donetsk for the European Supercup on Aug 28 and competes in the Club World Cup in December.
Although Thierry Henry started despite an Achilles tendon injury, Barcelona's offense lacked punch through the middle period of the game before Xavi's goal re-energised the Catalans, who had dominated early on.
Seydo Keita broke free down the left side of the area to find Pedro with a centering pass that was dished back to Xavi, and the Spain international curled a right-footed shot around a crowd and inside the right post.
Xavi returned the favour with a short lead to Pedro, who stepped up to fire a curling strike beyond the outstretched Athletic goalkeeper.
"The truth is that things are working well, my teammates have been great and I've just had the luck of scoring," Pedro said. "We hope to play well at home to win the title."
Athletic will need at least a 2-0 victory to lift its first piece of silverware since winning the competition in 1984.
"You have to play it," defender Aitor Ocio said. "We'll have to give it our all."
Barcelona looked sure to go ahead as they controlled the first 25 minutes with Bojan Krkic, who scored in the 4-1 Copa del Rey win in May, watching his shot from a tight angle deflect wide just before the teenager curled a long shot off the crossbar in the fourth minute.
Iraizoz tipped a dangerous shot from Daniel Alves over the bar in the 11th and rushed Xavi in the 24th for the Barcelona midfielder to push his shot over goal from the edge of penalty area.
Athletic finally threatened in the 32nd, as Ocio volleyed over goal from inside the area. Five minutes later, Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes tipped De Marcos' drive from just inside the Barcelona half over goal.
The 20-year-old De Marcos showed poise to score and dribbled around Gerard Pique before Carles Puyol accidentally tipped his low shot over Valdes, who had already gone down in anticipation.