Barcelona coach Luis Enrique saluted the efforts of his players after falling short in the return leg of the Supercopa de Espana, while he congratulated champions Athletic Bilbao.
Bilbao lifted silverware for the first time since 1984 following Monday’s 1-1 draw at Camp Nou, which was enough for a 5-1 aggregate triumph.
Barca had their work cut out from the first minute after losing the opening leg 4-0 but Lionel Messi set about reducing the deficit with a trademark goal approaching half-time, though Gerard Pique’s 56th-minute red card dashed their hopes.
Bilbao, who also finished the match with 10 men following a late red card to substitute Kike Sola, responded 16 minutes from time through first-leg hero Aritz Aduriz as they ended a 31-year trophy drought.
The defeat denied Luis Enrique the chance to equal Pep Guardiola’s record of six titles in his first year in charge, however the Barca boss had no issues with his side.
“I think they played very well,” Luis Enrique told reporters post-match.
“They got Athletic doubting and I could see our opponents were starting to worry. That’s what we were after in this game. We competed and made a huge effort.
“But it all ended when Gerard Pique was sent off.
“I can only say well done to Athletic for such a fine performance. Sometimes it’s good to lose in order to appreciate how hard it is to win.”
Luis Enrique added: “The team is united and competitive. There is a very tough league campaign ahead of us.
“We want to keep bringing joy to the fans and we want to carry on being a team that sets standards around the world.”
La Liga champions Barca have the opportunity to exact revenge when they kick off their league campaign at Bilbao on Sunday.
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