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.