Real Madrid provided the perfect tonic for their poor start to their La Liga campaign with a 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Bernabeu that handed them the Spanish Super Cup on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate.
It was a deserved victory for Real, who had begun their La Liga season with just a solitary point form two games. After losing 3-2 in the Camp Nou last week, early goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo were enough to ensure victory for Real and the first bragging rights over a Barcelona side reduced to 10 men for more than an hour following the dismissal of Adriano. Tito Vilanova's outfit looked like they might provide an improbable comeback after Lionel Messi scored a stunning free-kick, but Real held on in the second half.
With Carlos Puyol already out with a fractured cheekbone, Dani Alves was injured in the warm-up meaning that Adriano came in as a late replacement out of position at right back. Those changes looked costly as Barcelona were repeatedly exposed defensively.
A pass from Marcelo split the Barca back line far too easily as early as the sixth minute and Higuain really should have done better than a tame side-footed effort form 10 yards that produced a fairly comfortable block by the legs of Victor Valdes.
The incident was to be a mere portent of things to come, however. Just five minutes later a long ball over the top crudely caught out Javier Mascherano as he completely missed his clearance allowing Higuain to run onto the ball and take it into area before calmly dispatching the ball past Valdes.
Real were sensing the opportunity and surged into a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute as Barcelona's defense again failed to cover themselves in glory. Ronaldo produced a wonderfully inventive piece of skill to flick the ball with his back heel over the head of a bemused Gerard Pique and with no Barcelona defender trying to apply pressure was allowed to compose himself before firing low in off Valdes.
Things could have gotten even worse for Barcelona too as Higuain produced another save from Valdes before Real had a headed goal ruled out seemingly for a push on an opposition defender.
There looked no way back for Barcelona, though, when they were reduced to 10 men just past the half-hour mark. Another long ball over the top led to further disarray in the Barcelona defense as Adriano pulled down Ronaldo down when the last man, leaving the referee no choice but to give him his marching orders.
While Barcelona looked to compose themselves somewhat after right-back Martin Montoya replaced Alexis Sanchez, there were few signs of a comeback from the visitors. That was until Lionel Messi produced something that was special even for a man who has contributed so many memorable moments.
Barcelona's talisman struck a wonderful curling effort from all of 30 yards that sailed past Iker Casillas and into the back of the net to stun the crowd inside the Bernabeu.
Not wanting to be upstaged by Messi, Ronaldo almost produced an even more spectacular response. The Portuguese forward picked up the ball and moved forward before unleashing a ferocious drive from all of 35 yards that whizzed inches past Valdes' upright.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Barcelona took the game to their opponents for large part of the second-half.
A chipped ball over the top found Pedro, who showed tremendous skill to control it first time and dispatch a first-time shot but it traveled too close to Casillas who did well to block.
Real were still looking dangerous when they went forward, however. Sami Khedira went on a fine surge upfield and got all the way into area before his poked shot was well saved by Valdes.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Higuain really should have wrapped up the tie after being put clean through by Xabi Alonso, but struck the outside of the post with just Valdes to beat.
Luka Modric came on in the remaining minutes and almost provided an immediate impact with a side-footed effort that was just blocked in front of goal by a Barcelona defender.
The missed chances almost proved costly. In injury time Pedro produced a save from Casillas at his near post before Messi created a yard of space on the edge of the box but fired wide with his left-foot. But the comeback did not materialize and Real claimed the first silverware of the new season.