Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez Lead Barcelona to Copa del Rey Win vs. Sevilla

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2018

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (L) celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) final football match Sevilla FC against FC Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on April 21, 2018. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi both scored as Barcelona won the 2018 Copa del Rey with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Sevilla at Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Andres Iniesta also scored in what may be his last appearance in this competition, while Philippe Coutinho scored from the penalty spot after Messi and Suarez selflessly passed up the chance to take.

     

Messi Makes Copa History

Making history has not been a rare thing for Messi through the years. In fact, it's become routine for Barca's prolific No. 10 to enjoy milestone moments.

Messi opened his account at 31 minutes when he capped a gorgeous team move featuring a brilliant reverse pass by Iniesta before a deft backheel from Jordi Alba teed up Barca's main man.

In the process, Messi drew level with an Athletic Bilbao great for goals in a cup final, per La Liga's official Twitter account:

The fact the original record has stood this long underlines what a special talent Messi is to have reached the elusive mark.

Scoring in a fifth cup final wasn't Messi's only milestone, though. The Argentina international also confirmed two other notable achievements when he found the net against Sevilla, per Sky Sports Statto:

Messi still found the time to assist goals for both Suarez and Iniesta. Those contributions emphasised what sets Messi apart from some of his big-name contemporaries—namely his creative output is as significant as his goals.

His latest assists gave Messi a Copa del Rey final record all to himself:

With every achievement, Messi not only cements his status as Barca's greatest player but also as the signature talent of his generation.

       

Iniesta Signs off from the Cup in Style

It was fitting Iniesta got on the scoresheet in what may well be his last Copa final. The 33-year-old appears set to join Chinese Super League side Chongqing Dangdai Lifan at the end of the season, with the club sponsor recently telling Xinhu news agency (h/t Sky Sports) signs are "positive" Iniesta will sign.

If this was his last appearance in a Copa final, Iniesta did himself and Barca proud. The diminutive playmaker was brilliant in the buildup to Messi's goal, showcasing the vision, intelligence and flair that have defined his career.

Those qualities were obvious when Iniesta got on the scoresheet himself on 52 minutes. Racing to meet Messi's pass, the veteran dummied Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria before stroking the ball into the net.

The classy finish prompted Goal's Ben Hayward to reflect on the brilliant career of the man who scored the winner for Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final:

Hayward wasn't the only one to take a moment to pay homage to Iniesta's talent. Rik Sharma of Sport believes there's no doubt about how the astute pass-master compares to some of the game's best players:

He may be in the winter of his career, but Iniesta can still influence matches at the highest level. It's an influence the Blaugrana will surely miss.

Iniesta's marvellous potential swansong in the King's Cup had plenty wishing he would stay longer, per The Spanish Football Podcast:

On this evidence, Iniesta would still be a key figure for Barca were he to prolong his career at Camp Nou for another year. If not, performances like this one will live long in the memories of those who have watched a player as important to Barca's success during the last decade as Messi.

         

Suarez the Man for the Big Occasions

As good as Messi was, Suarez may have been even better after keeping up his incredible record in finals. The relentless No. 9 proved he remains the man for the big occasions by scoring twice in the first half.

His first goal, teed up by former Liverpool team-mate Coutinho, maintained an awesome consistency in showpiece matches for Suarez since he joined the Blaugrana in 2014:

There was another laudable landmark for Suarez when he completed a first-half brace five minutes before the break. The 31-year-old finished coolly after being played in by a terrific pass from Messi.

For Suarez, it marked a milestone goal:

The Uruguay international has been exceptional since moving to Camp Nou. He's given teams another world-class match-winner to worry about other than Messi.

Their combination keeps Barca at the summit of the Spanish scene and the European game.

     

Messi and Suarez Do Coutinho a Favour

Messi and Suarez letting Coutinho take the penalty for Barca's fifth goal was no small gesture. The Brazilian had already put the ball in the back of the net, only to see the goal disallowed.

Play was brought back for handball by Sevilla centre-back Clement Lenglet, who handled a Suarez flick meant for Iniesta. While it was an offence worthy of a penalty, the ball still made it through to Coutinho, so the referee should have played the advantage.

Barca's big stars made sure Coutinho got the goal his performance deserved.
Barca's big stars made sure Coutinho got the goal his performance deserved.David Ramos/Getty Images

Instead, both Messi and Suarez were given the chance to seize a significant goal. For Messi, scoring from the spot would have meant he'd have the record for most goals in cup finals all to himself.

Meanwhile, Suarez might have completed a hat-trick and earned the match ball.

Letting Coutinho, who hasn't always had an easy time since moving to Barcelona from Liverpool for £142 million back in January, take the kick spoke volumes about Barca's selfless team spirit.

David Mosse of Fox Sports was impressed by the gesture but bemoaned what the poor decision from the referee meant for Suarez:

It was a magnanimous act from both of Barca's premier goal-getters, one offering a hint to the unity of a squad still chasing an unbeaten season in La Liga.

     

What's Next?

Barca's quest to win La Liga without losing a game and complete the double will continue at Deportivo de la Coruna next Sunday, while Sevilla will try to restore pride when they travel to Levante on Friday.

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