Lionel Messi scores two goals as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao to go third in La Liga

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao to go in La Liga.

Athletic took an early lead throughout Inaki Williams, but adolescent Pedri equalised with a header shortly after.

Messi, who hit the post twice, then felt when he gathered Pedri’s backheel and taken beyond Unai Simon.

A effective first-time shooter in Messi made it 3-1 and Barcelona held on for the victory, despite having a late 20-yard attack from Athletic’s Iker Muniain.

The win requires Ronald Koeman’s side over Real Sociedad and Villarreal; they’re just five factors behind second-placed Real Madrid and seven adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two matches in hand.

This was the very first game for Athletic because Marcelino replaced former head trainer Gaizka Garitano, that had been sacked hours following Sunday’s 1-0 triumph over Elche.

Marcelino’s side had only three minutes to proceed as Williams sprinted clear, then cut in defender Clement Lenglet to score.

But, their lead lasted just 11 minutes as Messi’s cross went over Simon’s mind and Frenkie de Jong hooked the ball to Pedri to equalise.

Messi’s primary goal came just before half time after a one-two with Pedri and he scored his second using a highly effective first-time attack after Antoine Griezmann’s square pass.

Argentina forwards Messi then gave away the ball and Muniain scored from Alex Berenguer’s pass but it wasn’t sufficient to deny Barcelona a triumph.

Since losing 3-0 at home to Juventus in the Champions League on 8 December, Barcelona have now gone seven La Liga matches unbeaten, with five wins and 2 draws.

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