Barcelona beat Bilbao

BILBAO: European champions Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup with second-half goals by Xavi and forward Pedro Rodriguez on Sunday.

Athletic striker Oscar de Marcos opened the scoring in the 44th minute as he evaded both Gerard Pique and Daniel Alves before seeing his shot clip off Carles Puyol and fly over Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes. Barcelona leveled in the 58th minute as Eric Abidal sent a cross to the far post where Rodriguez rolled it back for Xavi who slotted it home. Rodriguez scored the winner nine minutes later when he stepped past midfielder Markel Susaeta and hammered a shot inside the near post from 25 yards.

Barcelona, who have won the Spanish Supercup seven times, will host the return leg on August 23. The tournament is contested each year between the league champions and the winners of the King’s Cup but as Barcelona won both competitions they are facing beaten Cup finalists Bilbao.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was without a number of players with attacking midfielder Andres Iniesta

and striker Lionel Messi still struggling with thigh injuries. New signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering from a left hand injury.