Barcelona failed in their attempts to overturn a four-goal deficit in the Supercopa de Espana against Athletic Bilbao, drawing 1-1 at Camp Nou on Monday.
A sensational 4-0 first-leg thrashing – inspired by Aritz Aduriz’s hat-trick – at San Mames set up Athletic’s triumph, and Ernesto Valverde’s men showed a resolute side to their game in the face of intense pressure, before Aduriz again stole the spotlight with a late equaliser on the night.
A tempestuous game saw both sides reduced to 10 men. Gerard Pique was dismissed for lambasting an assistant referee, while Athletic substitute Kike Sola saw red just five minutes after coming off the bench.
Barca knew that their already dwindling hopes were to worsen the longer they went without scoring and luck certainly did not seem to be on their side early on, as Pique struck the crossbar from just six yards.
The hosts did eventually find a way through just before the break as Lionel Messi rounded off a trademark Barca move, but Pique’s red card saw their hopes go up in smoke.
And Athletic were celebrating again with 16 minutes to go, Aduriz converting at the second attempt to give the Basques their first title since winning La Liga, the Copa del Rey and Supercopa 31 years ago.
Fully aware of the huge task that lay ahead of them, Barca were quick out of the blocks and went agonisingly close to drawing first blood with just six minutes gone, but it proved to be a case of right place, wrong man, with Pique guiding Pedro’s low cross on to the crossbar from close range.
Barca’s intensity and aggressive approach was a sign of things to come as Luis Enrique’s men unsurprisingly monopolised possession, but in their way stood a sturdy and rigid Athletic defence, boosted by the return of Aymeric Laporte.
Having held firm, Athletic should have further increased their aggregate advantage seven minutes before the break.
Eraso pounced on a wayward Pedro pass, jinked past Javier Mascherano and then charged into the area, only to slam his effort into the side-netting when one-on-one with Claudio Bravo.
And Barca capitalised on that let-off soon after, as Luis Suarez chested down Ivan Rakitic’s cross andMessi coolly swept home.
Athletic began the second half well and went close with 55 minutes played, but Aduriz drilled straight at Bravo from 12 yards.
But the away side were given reason to cheer just a minute later, as Pique confronted the referee’s assistant for seemingly failing to spot an offside and the Spain defender swiftly received his marching orders.
Rakitic spurned a glorious opportunity just after, skewing wide from just a few yards out as Athletic began to sense that luck was on their side.
And the visitors put the trophy beyond Barca’s reach in the 74th minute, as Aduriz calmly slotted in the rebound after Bravo saved his initial effort.
Sola’s late dismissal did little to dampen Athletic’s mood – it is their first trophy since 1984 – though the party atmosphere was not shared by many in the Camp Nou stands as Barca’s chances off securing a sextuple of titles was swiftly put paid to.