Lionel Messi drove Barcelona to their 29th Copa del Rey trophy with a dazzling performance against Alaves at the Vicente Calderon.
The Argentine won the 30th trophy of his club career and was the clear man of the match as Barcelona finished a disappointing season by retaining the cup for the third year running.
Messi career stats:
5 Ballon d’Or
4 Golden Boot
The best ever pic.twitter.com/X8exl2wfxZ
— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) May 28, 2017
Alaves started fiercely, stretching the laws of the game at times but certainly showing Barcelona they would be no pushovers.
They nearly opened the scoring when Ibai Gomez’s shot from the left hit the near post after a Gerard Pique error, with Jasper Cillessen missing the ball and nearly allowing it to spin into his net.
Lionel Messi’s best ever scoring seasons:
2011/12: 73 ⚽️
2012/13: 60 ⚽️
2014/15: 58 ⚽️
2016/17: 54 ⚽️
2010/11: 53 ⚽️
Out of this world. 👽 pic.twitter.com/6PxbtwEdtV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 28, 2017
Not to be outdone, three minutes later Theo Hernandez whipped a brilliant free-kick over Cillessen to level and confirm we had a real final on our hands.
However Barcelona struck twice just before half-time to take control of the game, Neymar tapping home after a brilliant team move before Messi worked wonders with a solo dribble and eye-of-the-needle pass to set up Paco Alcacer.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 28, 2017
Deyverson had a goal correctly ruled out for offside as Alaves made a game of it, but the Catalans held out to triumph.
Barcelona’s excellent display will make the coaching switch from Luis Enrique to Ernesto Valverde easier.
The Asturian departs on a high note and instead of misery and anger surrounding the man set to be appointed as his replacement, Valverde, when he arrives, the waters will be calmer.
No, winning the Copa del Rey does not atone completely for what will be remembered as a disappointing final year for Lucho, but at least the panic of having won nothing has been staved off.
That would have been an unproductive atmosphere for the incoming Valverde to have to deal with, especially considering the 53-year-old will have a lot on his plate with the ins and outs.
There were good performances by Andre Gomes and Paco Alcacer too, which will give the new coach hope he can get them to kick on from disappointing debut seasons.