Tuesday, 10 February 2015 01:35
Reuters: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was at the heart of another devastating attacking show as they thumped Athletic Bilbao 5-2 in La Liga on Sunday to move within a point of leaders Real Madrid.
The Catalan side took full advantage of Real’s 4-0 derby defeat by champions Atletico Madrid on Saturday with a dazzling display that moved them onto 53 points, three ahead of Atletico.
Earlier Valencia’s Pablo Piatti set them on the way to a 2-1 victory at Espanyol as they moved up to fourth by leapfrogging Sevilla who slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Getafe.
Messi had a hand in all five goals and has been in inspired form in a nine-match winning streak in all competitions for Barca since a defeat by Real Sociedad which led to a reported bust-up between coach Luis Enrique and the Argentina forward.
“It is a privilege to play alongside two phenomenons (in Messi and Neymar) and I need to enjoy it,” Barcelona striker Luis Suarez told reporters.
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult game but we got early goals that helped, although they (Athletic) did keep fighting to the end.”
Barca took the lead from a Messi free-kick that deflected off the wall and wrong-footed keeper Gorka Iraizoz after 15 minutes. The Argentine then played in Suarez who fired home from 20 metres to lift the pressure off the Uruguay forward who had not scored in six games and earlier had a header saved from point-blank range by Iraizoz.
Messi was at the heart of most of Barca’s play and set up Neymar for a clinical finish after 65 minutes.