Spain’s first treble winners last season, Barcelona had started the new campaign as they ended the old by collecting silverware thanks to last weekend’s Spanish Super Cup victory, but Josep Guardiola’s team struggled to unpick a well-drilled Shakhtar defence despite enjoying the vast majority of the possession. Shakhtar, bidding to become the 23rd side to lift the UEFA Super Cup and the first Ukrainian winners since FC Dynamo Kyiv’s 1975 triumph, held out to take the game into 30 additional minutes and looked to have earned a penalty shoot-out. Pedro had other ideas, however, exchanging passes with the tireless Lionel Messi to finally beat Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov with a low shot and add yet another trophy to Barça’s ever-expanding collection.
Much attention pre-match focused on Barcelona’s marquee summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimović while Messi picked up the Club Footballer of the Year and Best Forward prizes at the UEFA Club Football Awards on Thursday yet it was the third member of Josep Guardiola’s attack who was first to threaten. Nine minutes in, Thierry Henry expertly shook off Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna with a perfectly-executed turn before sending a fizzing shot fractionally too high from the edge of the area.
Although Victor Valdés had to race from his line to whip the ball off the toes of Luiz Adriano neither goalkeeper was called into serious action until the 33rd minute, when Messi played a swift one-two with Xavi Hernández and raced into the area only for Pyatov to smother his shot. The Argentinian forward had another shooting opportunity as half-time approached but was unable to beat Shakhtar’s defensive wall with his curling free-kick as the Spanish side stepped up their bid to add to their triumphs in this competition in 1992 and 1997.
Still without Andrés Iniesta due to a thigh injury that has kept the midfielder on the sidelines since the UEFA Champions League final, Barcelona nevertheless continued to largely control the tempo as the second half kicked off but struggled to carve out clear chances, Ibrahimović’s sliced attempt encapsulating their difficulties. Henry then failed to connect with an ambitious overhead kick before Pyatov produced two smart saves in quick succession to deny Messi and Henry.
Messi was then unable to make the most of the time afford to him by Daniel Alves’s cross, Pyatov easily gathering his weak right-foot effort, while Henry nearly turned in Carles Puyol’s flick-on from a corner. With neither side able to find a breakthrough the match moved into extra time, where the introduction of Julius Aghahowa added verve to the Shakhtar attack, Valdés diving to his left to push away the striker’s low shot. It was to be a Barcelona replacement who had the decisive word, however, Srna hacking away one Pedro effort yet the 22-year-old would not be denied and finally ended Shakhtar’s resolve after a typically intricate move to take the trophy to Spain again.