Barcelona secured a 3-2 victory at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday to climb up to third in La Liga. Lionel Messi was at the top of his game.
Messi has had a relatively poor season by his own standards. But his goals took him on to nine goals for the campaign, making him the joint top scorer in La Liga.
In their first match under new coach Marcelino, Athletic got off to a dream start. Forward Inaki Williams latched on to a low through ball and sped towards the goal. He beat one defender in the third minute before shooting low into the net.
With a sensational team goal, however, Barca replied quickly. Messi delivering a perfect pass to pick out Frenkie de Jong by the byline and the Dutchman volleyed the ball back. The pass went across the area for 18-year-old Pedri to head home.
Messi and Pedri combined wonderfully to bring Barca ahead. They combined again with a delightful backheel, the younger receiving a pass from the Argentine. And Messi rolled the ball into the bottom corner in the 38th minute.
In the 62nd minute, Messi struck again to finish another brilliant team move. Also he missed a few chances of completing his hat-trick. While in the 90th Iker Muniain made for a tense final by scoring for Athletic.
The win took Barca above Real Sociedad and into third in the standings on 31 points. They are seven behind leaders Atletico Madrid who have two games in hand on the Catalans.