Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Barcelona
Pedro double and Messi clinch Copa del Rey and offer Guardiola fitting finale
Three goals in the opening half hour saw the Blaugrana win the competition for a record 26th time, as Pep calls time on his four-year reign at Camp Nou in emotional fashion
Barcelona have collected a record 26th Copa del Rey title, defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon as Pep Guardiola's illustrious era came to a close.
The Blaugrana were ahead after three minutes thanks to Pedro's opportunistic finish following a corner. Lionel Messi, and a second from Pedro, put Guardiola's side three up inside the opening half hour to all but confirm the 14th trophy of a phenomenal tenure.
In a repeat of the 2009 final the opening goal came inside three minutes as Barcelona started at a breathtaking tempo.
Messi gave Athletic a early warning as he was able to run at the opposition defence before putting his shot narrowly wide, before Adriano crossed for Pedro whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. The Catalans opted to swing the delivery in, and it reaped rewards when the ball fell to Pedro who reacted first to open the scoring.
The Basques looked to retain possession in the hope of building a sustained period of pressure on Jose Pinto's goal, but despite the keepers nervous clearances Athletic never truly threatened.
Barca continued to exploit the openness of Athletic's defence as Messi cut inside from the right before bending a goal-bound effort toward the top corner. But for Gorka Iraizoz's flying save, Marcelo Bielsa's side would have fallen further behind.
The Argentine, however, was not to be denied a second time. Messi latched onto Andres Iniesta's perfectly weighted through ball, taking it into his path with the outside of his left foot before lifting it into the roof of the net with his right.
And Barca extended their lead when Pedro curled a precise finish into the far corner, following Xavi's delicate lay off five minutes later.
The third goal appeared to awaken Athletic Bilbao as they threatened immediately after the restart with Markel Susaeta forcing Pinto into a smart save.
However, Bielsa's side could have conceded a fourth when Messi managed to evade the attentions of Fernando Amorebieta latching onto a long ball, the wily Argentine attempted a lob from inside the area but it lacked the sufficient height to beat Iraizoz.
Fernando Llorente, who had cut a lonesome figure in the attacking third for Athletic, was finally offered some support as the Basques found their passing rhythm. Iker Munian slid a pass through to Athletic's talismanic striker who turned expertly beyond Gerard Pique before, with a clear sight of goal, falling to ground only to see his claims for a penalty waved away by the referee.
Bielsa made two changes at the break in the hope of overturning the three goal deficit in the second half, the Argentine coach introducing Inigo Perez and Ander Herrera.
The changes had an immediate impact on the game as the Basque began to prevent Barca from dominating possession and territory, and were even afforded the first chance of the second half. Substitute Herrera slid an inviting through ball to Ibai Gomez but his attempted lob over an onrushing Pinto dropped beyond the target.
As the second half progressed the Catalans appeared to be content with their three goal lead as Athletic's chances were limited to set pieces.
With the contest seemingly over Guardiola's side appeared to be content with their three-goal lead as Athletic failed to create an opening. In fact Barca continued to look the more likely as they broke away, with Pedro denied a hat-trick thanks to a last-ditch tackle.
Messi then embarked on a typically magical run, evading the challenges of four Athletic defenders, only to be denied a second goal by Iraizoz's outstretched boot.
Despite the substitution, Athletic were gifted a golden chance to register a goal when Jon Aurtenetxe was left unmarked at the far post only to direct his header wide of the target from point blank range.
Xavi, one of the players to symbolise Barca as a club, was then given a resounding exit by Guardiola as the Catalan's looked to stroll to a comfortable finish.
The win, a 14th trophy for Guardiola in four years, cemented his place as the most successful Barcelona coach as he brings his legacy to a close, leaving the reigns to Tito Vilanova.
Guardiola: Messi is the best I've ever seen and probably the best I'll ever see
The Catalan coach departed with a 3-0 Copa del Rey victory over Athletic Bilbao, and bid goodbye with words of immense praise for his mesmeric Argentine
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has admitted that Lionel Messi is the best player he has ever seen - and probably the greatest that he is ever likely to see.
The Argentine netted his 73rd goal of the season in Friday's 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey, a triumph which ensured that Guardiola's tenure ended on a winning note.
The 41-year-old has led the Catalans to 14 titles in four seasons but he humbly claimed that he was learning from Messi during that time, and not the other way around.
"It has been an honour to be the coach of the best player I have ever seen and probably the best I will see," Guardiola told reporters after the game.
"Messi taught me to be even more competitive. We would have won trophies without him, but not 14 from 19."
Barca's campaign has been deemed as a failure by some pundits given they were dethroned as European and Spanish champions, by Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively, but Guardiola argued that the team has actually progressed this year.
"Football-wise, this has been the best season," he stated. "We introduced new concepts. And next season, we'll be even better."
It was then put to Guardiola that he had created the greatest footballing side the game has ever seen, but he was reluctant to accept such an accolade.
"I didn't invent anything," he insisted. "I'm just part of a process that started before me and will continue after me."
"And the best team in history? Would be pretentious to call us that. Those are big words."
Guardiola also reiterated his intention to take a year out from the game, admitting that he is need of a break.
"I'm tired - that's why I'll stop for a while now," he explained. "But I am very satisfied with the 14 trophies, and how we won them."
Guardiola succeeded Frank Rijkaard as Barca boss in 2008, after spending a year in charge of the club's B team.