Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa took full responsibility for his side's 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final on Friday.Bilbao conceded all three goals in the opening 25 minutes of the match at the Vicente Calderon, with Pedro making an early breakthrough for Barcelona, before netting again after Lionel Messi had racked up his 73rd goal of the season.
Barcelona gave outgoing coach Pep Guardiola a fitting send-off with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey on Friday.
Two goals from Pedro Rodriguez and one from Lionel Messi in the match at Estadio Vicente Calderon sealed a record 26th Copa del Rey title for Barca.
It was the 14th major trophy of Guardiola's extraordinary four-year spell in charge of the Catalan side.
In a re-match of the 2009 final between the two clubs, Barca began at a breathtaking tempo and earned the lead as early as the third minute in Madrid.
Messi gave Athletic an early warning when he shot narrowly wide after running at the opposition defence.
Adriano then crossed for Pedro, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. Pedro reacted first from the subsequent corner, tucking the ball home to open the scoring.
Messi nearly made it 2-0 soon after, cutting in from the right before bending a goal-bound effort toward the top corner. But for goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz's flying save, Marcelo Bielsa's side would have fallen further behind.
In the 20th minute, Iraizoz proved unable to keep out the Argentina international.
Messi latched onto Andres Iniesta's perfectly weighted through-ball, gathering the delivery and lifting the ball into the roof of the net.
Barca made it 3-0 five minutes later, when Pedro curled a precise finish into the far corner, following a delicate lay off from Xavi Hernadez.
Athletic did go close to pulling a goal back before the half-time break, with Markel Susaeta forcing Barca goalkeeper Jose Pinto into a smart save.
Spain international Fernando Llorente also had a penalty appeal waved away after he was brought down inside the Barca box.
At the other end, Messi could have extended his team's advantage, narrowly failing to beat Iraizoz with an attempted lob.
The introduction of substitutes Inigo Perez and Ander Herrera at half-time saw Athletic earn a greater share of possession in the second 45 minutes.
And they enjoyed the first real chance of the half through Ibai Gomez, who narrowly missed the far post after trying a lob of his own from just outside the area.
As the half wore on, Messi was denied a second goal by the outstretched boot of Iraizoz following a dazzling, trademark run through the Athletic defence.
With the match over as a contest and time running out, Jon Aurtenetxe summed up a disappointing night for the Basque underdogs when he headed wide from close range.
It was left for Xavi to lift the trophy in the absence of injured captain Carles Puyol, as Guardiola bowed out after guiding the club to three La Liga titles, two Champions League victories and a host of other triumphs since his appointment in 2008.
Guardiola's assistant, Tito Vilanova, will take over first-team duties next season, charged with wresting the championship crown away from Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid.
Athletic meanwhile face a challenge to retain the services of Bielsa, and must also ward off interest from Europe's top clubs in the likes of Llorente and Iker Muniain.
Outgoing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says Lionel Messi is likely to be the best player he will ever see.Argentina international Messi netted his 73rd goal of the season during Barca's 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey on Friday.
Outgoing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has given his backing to his successor, Tito Vilanova.And Guardiola joked that there is no chance that he will have to return to Camp Nou in six months.
Athletic Bilbao attacker Iker Muniain is brimming with confidence ahead of Friday's Copa del Rey final against Barcelona.The 19-year-old insists his team have moved on from their Europa League final loss to Atletico Madrid earlier this month.
Thiago Alcantara is eagerly anticipating Barcelona's Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao and is determined to come out victorious on Friday.The youngster feels that Barcelona have shown over the years that they always perform when it matters most and is keen to win yet another trophy with the Catalans.
Barcelona attacker Pedro has hailed Pep Guardiola for the role the coach played in the youngster's progress in recent years.The 24-year-old forward came through the ranks of the Catalans' youth academy and developed into an important first-team player during Guardiola's four-year spell in charge of Barca.
Cesc Fabregas says Pep Guardiola will go down as the greatest coach in the history of Barcelona.Guardiola has already announced he will step down after four years at the helm of the club, and will be looking to win his 14th title since taking charge of the club in Friday's Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.
Cesc Fabregas has warned Athletic Bilbao that Barcelona are ready to perform at their best in Friday's Copa del Rey final.Barca have not played since the 2-2 La Liga draw against Betis on May 12, but Fabregas is confident his side will be physically and mentally prepared, although he expects a difficult encounter.
Markel Susaeta believes Athletico Bilbao's 3-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final will prove to be a valuable experience.Two goals from Radamel Falcao and Diego's effort were enough for Atletico to see off their Basque opponents in the final at the Arena Nationali, Bucharest, on May 9.
Xavi Hernandez believes Barcelona have what it takes to overcome defensive absentees in their Copa de Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.Barca will be without fullbacks Eric Abidal and Dani Alves for the match at Estadio Vicente Calderon, while club captain and centre-back Carles Puyol is also missing.
Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has called on his side to win the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.After failing to win La Liga and the Champions League, the Catalan giants turn their attention to the cup final on May 25 in what will be Pep Guardiola's last match on the club's bench.
|26-05||Bielsa accepts blame for Copa loss|
|26-05||Copa del Rey: Barcelona 3 Athletic Bilbao 0|
|26-05||Guardiola bows out praising Messi|
|25-05||Guardiola backs Tito|
|24-05||Bilbao aim to unsettle Barca|
|24-05||Thiago eyes Copa delight|
|23-05||Pedro grateful for Guardiola guidance|
|23-05||Fabregas hails outgoing Guardiola|
|22-05||Fabregas ready for final showdown|
|20-05||Susaeta backs Athletic to recover|
|18-05||Xavi: Barca have cover in defence|
|16-05||Barcelona must win Copa del Rey, says Busquets|