Lionel Messi won his 33rd title with Barcelona on Sunday to become the most successful player in the Catalan club’s history. Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-1 in the Spanish Super Cup as Messi overtook Andres Iniesta, who had 32 titles when he left this summer for the Japanese league.
Ousmane Dembele scored a late winning goal with a blistering strike from outside the area. The 21-year-old France winger stunned Sevilla’s defense with a right-footed shot that hit the underside of the crossbar in the 78th minute.
Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen secured the win when he saved a penalty kick from Sevilla substitute Wissam Ben Yedder in the 89th after Ter Stegen fouled former Barcelona forward Aleix Vidal.
Pablo Sarabia opened for Sevilla in the ninth, when the video assistant referee overruled an offside call in the first use of VAR in Spanish competition.
While Barcelona dominated possession, Sevilla went close to going back in front when Franco Vazquez’s glancing header hit the top of the goal-frame in the 62nd before Dembele took his winner.
A year ago, Barcelona broke their own transfer record to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in August for a fee of 105 million euros (now $120 million) that could rise to 147 million euros. But his first season at Camp Nou was limited by injuries as Dembele struggled to replace the hole left by Neymar after he went to Paris Saint-Germain.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that he hoped that Dembele’s goal is a sign of better things to come this season.
“We have placed lots of hope (in Dembele),” Valverde said. “He has an amazing ability to break down defenses with his speed. He is a very young player and we hope that little by little he makes progress.”
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal debuted for Barcelona as a late substitute.
The Super Cup is played between the previous season’s league and Copa del Rey winners. Since Barcelona won both competitions, Sevilla played the match as the Copa runners-up after losing 5-0 in last season’s cup final to Barcelona.
Played in Tangier, Morocco, this was the first Spanish Super Cup held outside Spain and the first time it was played as a single match, instead of a two-leg series.
Sevilla played the match, which serves as a curtain raiser for the Spanish league season, in the middle of its playoff to qualify for the Europa League’s group phase. Sevilla faces Zalgiris on Thursday after winning their first match 1-0.
VAR used in Spanish football for first time
The video assistant referee (VAR) was used for the first time in Spanish football on Sunday to award midfielder Pablo Sarabia with Sevilla’s opening goal against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.
Referee Carlos Cerro del Grande deferred to the video assistants to ensure Sarabia was not in an offside position when he latched on to Luis Muriel’s pass to give Sevilla a surprise lead against La Liga and King’s Cup holders Barcelona in the ninth minute in the Super Cup game in Tangier, Morocco.
The use of VAR was hailed as a success at the 2018 World Cup and has been approved for use in La Liga this season, following Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A which introduced the technology last year.