- Lionel Messi scored his 650th goal for Barcelona in a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao
- The Argentine powered home an unstoppable free-kick earlier in the game
- While Antoine Griezmann scored the winner as Ronald Koeman's men rise to second on the log
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Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao in a tough Spanish League encounter at Camp Nou.
The 33-year-old Argentine struck a stunning free-kick at the edge of the 18-yard box in the 20th minute to hit his 650th goal for the Catalans in his career.
An own goal from Jordi Alba four minutes after resumption gave the visitors a lifeline but an Antoine Griezmann 74th minute effort sealed the victory for the hosts.
The French World Cup winner benefited from a cross from Oscar Mingueza before putting the ball beyond the Unai Simon's reach.
And this was a sweet piece of revenge for the Blaugrana who lost the Spanish Super Cup title to the same opposition on January 17.
The goal was also the legend's 49th from a direct free-kick for the Spanish League outfit, with 38 of those coming in the La Liga.
Ronald Koeman's men have now risen above Real Madrid on the table, though same points as the struggling rivals who lost at home to Levante over the weekend.
Meanwhile, both teams trail table-toppers Atletico Madrid by 10 points despite having one match in hand.
After the match, Griezmann said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was instrumental in his side winning five consecutive matches in La Liga. He said and was quoted by Goal:
"Messi is a legend, we are enjoying him, and hopefully he will keep helping us win."
The former Atletico Madrid forward also singled out his international teammate Ousmane Dembele for praises, saying the forward has overcome his injury woes earlier in the season to start five Liga games in a row for Barca.
"Dembele is playing very well. We just want to get him in the best shape as possible so he can help us as much as possible."
Barca face a Copa del Rey quarter-final against Granada on Wednesday before returning to Liga action against Real Betis next weekend.
Legit.ng earlier reported that Lionel Messi continues to set and shatter records at Spanish club Barcelona and now the Argentine legend has become the first the club’s first player to make 76 appearances in Copa del Rey.
The 33-year-old multiple Ballon d’Or winner holds a huge number of records but his appearance vs Rayo Vallecano means he sets a new club record.
Messi overtook Josep Samitier, a Barcelona legend who had made 75 appearances for Barcelona in the competition almost a century ago.
Source: Legit Newspaper