Messi leads Barca to second part of treble bid

BARCELONA boss Luis Enrique is determined to round off his first season in charge with a treble after his side lifted the Copa del Rey.
Lionel Messi scored another stunning solo goal. Picture: GettyLionel Messi scored another stunning solo goal. Picture: Getty
Lionel Messi scored another stunning solo goal. Picture: Getty

Lionel Messi scored a stunning opener before adding a second goal to lead Barca to cup glory with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, giving the Catalan club the second of three possible trophies before they turn their attention to the Champions League final.

Messi did it all by himself in the 20th minute when he dribbled past four Bilbao defenders to put Barcelona in charge. The Argentine added a second goal after Neymar doubled the lead to build a 3-0 advantage as Barcelona claimed a record 27th cup title – and third in seven years, all at the expense of Bilbao. Inaki Williams headed in Bilbao’s goal with their first shot on target with ten minutes left.

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Barcelona won the La Liga title two weeks ago and, led by Luis Enrique, have now won two major trophies for the first time since 2011. They finished last season without a major piece of silverware under former coach Gerardo Martino but will have a chance to make it a rare treble when they play Juventus for the European Cup in Berlin next Saturday.

“We have two, and now we want the third. That is the mentality of this team and this club,” Luis Enrique said. “Messi is the best player in the world, even though we are used to him. I saw his first goal up close, but I am eager to watch it again later.”

That goal was pure Messi: A unique combination of skill, speed and daring.

The Argentina forward appeared to be hemmed in when three defenders surrounded him on the right touchline but, instead of passing, Messi took them all on. He dribbled through Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel Rico and Benat Etxebarria, streaked into the area, changed foot to avoid Aymeric Laporte’s challenge, and then slotted a left-footed strike between the goalkeeper and the near post.

“If Messi isn’t unstoppable, he is almost unstoppable, he conditions everything you do,” said Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde. “His first goal was incredible.”

Messi’s goals were his 57th and 58th of the season as he claimed his 23rd trophy with Barcelona.