Barca Close In On Real As Messi Spearheads Win Over Bilbao

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez all got among the goals as Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao at the Estadio San Mames to move within a point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

The Argentine superstar placed Barca ahead with his deflected free-kick and then teed up Suarez to double his side’s lead.

Athletic’s Mikel Rico pulled one back after half-time, but that was as close as the hosts got as Oscar de Marcos turned Messi’s goal-bound header into his own net.

Neymar grabbed Barca’s 4th from another Messi pass. Aritz Aduriz reduced Athletic’s deficit with a fourth goal in six minutes.

The home team were reduced to ten men when Xabier Etxeita received a straight red card for an incredulous challenge on Suarez before Pedro Rodriguez completed scoring.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez Celebrate Barca Win Over Athletic. Image: Miguel Ruiz for FC Barca.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez Celebrate Barca Win Over Athletic. Image: Miguel Ruiz for FC Barca.

Neymar fluffed a glorious chance to complete his brace when sent through on goal but shot straight at Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

Barcelona have now won their last nine games in all competitions as Messi has scored 11 times in his last eight games.

Coach Luiz Enrique’s men are in part grateful to Real Madrid’s wobble of late, following Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing by Atletico Madrid- a result which blew the Spanish championship race wide open.

In the wake of Real’s derby defeat, the Baulgranas now boast of a superior goal difference than their rivals having scored 21 goals in their last five wins.

Elsewhere, Valencia climbed fourth with a 2-1 win at Espanyol, leapfrogging Sevilla who lost 2-1 at Getafe.

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