Lionel Messi’s Free-Kick Helped Barcelona Beat Bilbao 2-1

Two weeks after losing to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final, Barcelona defeated the Basque side 2-1 at the Camp Nou in La Liga.

Lionel Messi’s free-kick and Antoine Griezmann’s winner came either side of an own goal by Jordi Alba.

Barcelona recorded yet another La Liga victory after beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1. Lionel Messi deservedly put Barca ahead from a free-kick in the first half and even though Jordi Alba turned a cross into his own net early in the second period, Griezmann got the winner for Koeman’s side 15 minutes from time. It was a fully deserved victory for the Catalan giants who are now 10 points off leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand.

The home side came out attacking from the off and Messi was denied after just five minutes by Athletic keeper Unai Simon after being played in by Griezmann. Simon was called into action again seconds later to keep out Griezmann’s effort while Marcelino’s men came to defend. Messi headed over from close range after the linesman missed an offside in the build-up and the pressure finally told 20 minutes in.

Vencedor blocked off Messi just outside the D and the Argentine hit a lovely free-kick over the wall and into Simon’s top left corner. Yeray ran back from the wall to try and head it away, but he unable to reach in time.

The Catalans continued to press and Ronald Araujo came close not long afterwards. Barca were in firm control of the contest and Ousmane Dembele very nearly made it two just before half-time. De Jong made a fine run down the near touchline, Griezmann left the pass for Messi in the middle who laid off for Dembele who fired over. The interval seemed to do the away side good though.

They were level in the 49th minute, but not without controversy. Raul Garcia attacked for ‘Los Leones’ and his cross was turned in by Jordi Alba. He felt he had been fouled by Oscar de Marcos, but contact looked minimal and the goal was allowed to stand.

The goal seemed to spark Barca into life and Pjanic forced a superb save out of Simon with a header just before the hour mark. That was just one of many opportunities the home side had in a siege which lasted around 20 minutes. Athletic Bilbao were forced to deal with plenty of corners and were under constant pressure. They could have even scored through Berenguer 18 minutes from time, but he failed to hit the target and shortly after that, Barca got the winner.

Dembele started the move which also involved Pedri and Mingueza and Mingueza’s cross in was tapped home by Antoine Griezmann from 10 yards out.

The visitors then threw players forward looking for a leveller, but despite promising runs by Yuri, they ran out of time. The closest Bilbao came to an equaliser was when Raul Garcia’s strike in the 88th minute was deflected behind for a corner.

Barca could have made it 3-1 right at the death on the counter when Alba and Messi combined, but the goalkeeper made a fine stop to deny the former. In the end, it was a much needed three points for Barca while Athletic Bilbao left empty handed despite a much improved second half showing. They are in 11th place, five points above the bottom three.

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