MADRID: Luis Suarez and Munir El Haddadi shot down Sevilla to give Barcelona a comfortable victory in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday.
The Uruguayan opened the scoring early in the second half, making amends for two misses earlier in the game, before Munir sealed the win when he ran on to a Lionel Messi through-ball.
Having been beaten 4-0 by Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of last year’s final, Barcelona were determined to improve on that showing and have set themselves up nicely for the second leg at Camp Nou on August 17.
Luis Enrique sprang a surprise with his selection, picking Jeremy Mathieu at left-back and Arda Turan at left-wing in place of the absent Neymar, with all four summer signings left out. Sergi Roberto was also chosen out of position at right-back, ahead of Aleix Vidal.
However, by the 35th minute both Lucas Digne and Denis Suarez had to be brought on for their official debuts, with Jeremy Mathieu and Andres Iniesta injuring their hamstring and knee respectively.
Iniesta was making his 594th appearance for Barcelona, taking over from Carles Puyol as the player with the second most appearances for the club, behind Xavi Hernandez, but it was ended prematurely after a fierce challenge by Gabriel Mercado.
The first period saw few chances created, although the best of them fell to Luis Suarez in the sixth minute. Sergio Busquets played him in and after spinning masterfully away from the defence his low strike was saved well by goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
At the other end Jorge Sampaoli’s team worked their way into the game but despite plenty of possession in dangerous areas, they couldn’t create any clear-cut chances to worry Claudio Bravo.
After Gerard Pique half-cleared the ball Vitolo fired in a stinging drive but Javier Mascherano was alert, bravely blocking the forward’s effort.
Luis Suarez spurned another good chance at the start of the second half when Rico saved his flicked effort, but it was third time lucky for the Uruguayan. Denis Suarez lofted a neat ball into the area and Turan chested it home for the forward to finish with aplomb.
Messi should have doubled the lead moments later, but Rico made a fine stop from his dinked effort, after good work by Turan and Suarez carved the Argentine an opening.
Eventually substitute Munir El Haddadi managed to, after Messi fed through an inviting through-ball which he stroked past Rico with the outside of his left boot.
It was evident that neither team were as fit as they would have liked, with Sevilla energy levels falling away in the second half, no doubt as a result of playing 120 minutes against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup earlier in the week.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are still below their best, with Messi struggling to get into the game at times, although he still put the second goal on a plate for Munir.