Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images
Xavi Hernández had said that one would be enough but, in the end, at last, it was two. A Robert Lewandowski strike and another from Lamine Yamal on 92 minutes gave Barcelona a win by more than a single goal for the first time in 21 matches, the longest run in their history, to progress to the final of the Spanish Super Cup. There, in Saudi Arabia on Sunday night, Real Madrid await, as they did last year. “It’s been a long time, it’s true, but it doesn’t matter: it was about winning,” the midfielder Frenkie de Jong said when it was finally over.
Their opponents Osasuna, meanwhile, head back to Spain. This may be a minor competition to most but for a club without a trophy it mattered, however much they would have preferred to have fought for it back home. They have a 5,000km journey ahead of them, time enough to lament an opportunity lost. Or, they felt, taken away, David García complaining about what he called a “clear foul” from Andreas Christensen on José Arnaiz in the build up to Lewandowski’s opening goal, even if replays suggested there was little there. “We deserved more but it wasn’t to be,” García said.
Related: Real Madrid beat Atlético 5-3 in Saudi Arabia to reach Spanish Super Cup final
For Barcelona there was cautious satisfaction to go with the celebration. The margin of victory may not seem that significant and Xavi insisted that a win is a win, especially in a semi-final, but that run had become symbolic of their struggles, how little they have convinced. This was not brilliant, but it was a bit better. De Jong said it had been a “serious” display, which is progress. There is optimism too with the return after injury of Pedri, who the coach said “brings clarity to our play”.
It hadn’t been easy, Xavi said, especially to begin with. The second half was better but it would still take until additional time, with Osasuna pushing for an equaliser, for the second goal to arrive and victory to be secured.
In the first half, Barcelona’s possession was up near 70%, but while they dominated the ball it went from one side to the other and back again as they struggled to find a way through a line of five. The spaces Xavi’s side waited for refused to appear and the one time they looked like running into a gap Raphinha was brought down by Alejandro Catena.
From a free-kick Ilkay Gündogan sought to catch out Sergio Herrera, Christensen had a volley saved and Ferran Torres flashed wide. There was also a fluffed attempt from Sergi Roberto. Those were half-chances, though, and better opportunities fell to Lewandowski. Once that would have been a guarantee but he has looked fallible of late, scoring once in the past six league games, and it would take until the second half for him to produce the night’s decisive moment.
Played in by Roberto, the Pole was unable to bend a shot beyond the goalkeeper’s hand and when he outjumped everyone on the edge of the six-yard box he guided his header wide. Yamal’s clever pass then found him just before half-time but García slid in to shut him down.
Osasuna had contained but occasionally threatened too, an Arnaiz shot flying wide and Jesús Areso’s deflected effort skidding past the post. When Ante Budimir turned sharply, the ball slipping through the legs of Ronald Araújo, Iñaki Peña had to move fast, a strong left arm blocking the Osasuna striker. The keeper then pushed away a Rubén Peña free-kick. Budimir had also laid one off for Arnaiz, superbly setting up the shot; this time, it was Araújo who got in the way.
The next chance came just before the hour and this time the real Lewandowski stood up. Collecting Gündogan’s clever pass, he held off a challenge and struck a clean, disguised shot into the corner, by the post. Skidding to his knees, arms out, there was a hint of vindication in his celebration. There was recrimination in Osasuna’s reaction, appealing for a foul that even Xavi said he “would have blown live” but not once he had watched it back.
So often this season Barcelona have conceded the first goal and been forced to come from behind; now they had the goal they wanted and, in theory, the game they wanted too. João Félix and Pedri came on to reinforce that. The former produced the kind of control that reminded everyone how much they have missed him and the latter soon drew a sharp save from Herrera.
Not that this was comfortable: Osasuna weren’t giving up. Budimir was denied by Peña then couldn’t quite complete a neat combination with Raúl García in the area. Christensen, superb throughout, had to intercept a Kike Barja cross looking for Budimir and Jon Moncayola had a volley blocked. A gorgeous move from Aimar Oroz and Rubén García teed up Raúl García but his shot flew high. Xavi glanced nervously at the scoreboard.
There were three minutes left and the lead was still just one. But for the first time since September that changed when, with Osasuna throwing everything at them, Félix found Yamal to sidefoot Barcelona into the final.