Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi helped to ensure that Pep Guardiola's reign at Barcelona ended on a high, with his 73rd goal of the season against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final. Reuters

Barcelona brought down the curtain on Pep Guardiola's glorious reign in fitting style with a 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey.

Guardiola will now leave for his much-earned sabbatical having amassed 14 titles in four trophy-laded seasons at the Camp Nou.Two goals from Pedro and another from Lionel Messi secured the victory after some breathtaking moments from Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon

Barcelona's players started like a team wanting to give their coach a special send off. After just three minutes, a corner from the right struck Oscar De Marcos ungainly in the center of the box allowing Pedro to nip in and drill the ball powerfully into the back of the net on his left foot.

It was not long before the Catalans doubled their lead. Andres Iniesta slid a perfect pass through to incisively split the Bilbao defense to find Lionel Messi and the Argentine grabbed his 73rd goal of the season with a precision finish into the roof of the net at the near post.

And before the clock could reach the half-an-hour mark it was 3-0 to Barcelona. Pedro claiming his second of the contest as he effortlessly stroked the ball low into the far corner with his left foot from 20 yards out.

Messi almost got a fourth in the second-half with a quite stunning run through the Bilbao defense, but was thwarted at the last by the legs of keeper Gorka Iraizoz.

But in the end Barcelona ran out deserved and comfortable winners. The trophy coming as some compensation to the club after missing out on the La Liga title to Real Madrid and falling to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

For Bilbao, they will be disappointed to end what was a memorable season empty handed after also falling to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final. The key for the Basque outfit will now be to ensure they hold onto their star players and revered coach, Marcelo Bielsa.

Athletic 0 - 1 FC barcelona 25/05/2012

by hoofoot

Athletic 0 - 2 FC barcelona 25/05/2012

by hoofoot