Barcelona overturn defecit to advance past Athletic Bilbao

A late Lionel Messi free-kick helped the Catalan club reverse a 2-1 first-leg loss

Barcelona’s Neymar has the Athletic Bilbao defence in knots during their Copa del Rey clash at the Nou Camp. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

Barcelona’s Neymar has the Athletic Bilbao defence in knots during their Copa del Rey clash at the Nou Camp. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

 

Barcelona 3 Athletic Bilbao 1 (4-3 on aggregate)

Another free-kick goal from Lionel Messi gave defending champions Barcelona a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou and a spot in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

Messi fired home the decisive strike in the 78th minute to help the Catalan club reverse a 2-1 first-leg loss and advance 4-3 on aggregate.

Luis Suárez’s scissor-kick had put Barça ahead on the night in the 35th minute while Brazil international Neymar earned and converted a penalty three minutes into the second half to score his first goal since October and put the home side in front in the tie.

Bilbao responded immediately, substitute defender Gorka Elustondo crossing for Barcelona-born Enric Saborit to firmly head home in the 51st minute. The goal emboldened the visitors for a 10-minute spell, with the tie heading towards extra time, but Barça withstood the pressure.

Messi had squandered two free-kicks in the first half but then steppted up to curl the ball in low off the post, his third decisive dead-ball goal in his side’s last three matches.

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