Lionel Messi scored a fine free-kick and Antoine Griezmann netted the winner as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Nou Camp and moved up to second place in the LaLiga table.
Messi’s curling effort gave Barca the lead in the 20th minute before Athletic equalised via a Jordi Alba own goal early in the second half.
Griezmann secured all three points for Ronald Koeman’s men with a finish in the 74th minute.
The result sees Barcelona replace Real Madrid in second. Both sides are 10 points behind Atletico Madrid – 4-2 winners at Cadiz earlier on Sunday – with each having played a game more than the leaders.
Messi’s goal – his 650th for the Catalan giants – came on the day Barcelona released a statement denying responsibility for the publication of details of his current contract with the club, which expires at the end of the season.
Spain’s El Mundo published the details, claiming Messi is earning over 555million euros across his four-year deal. Barca said they will take “appropriate legal action” against the newspaper.
The early stages of the contest saw the Argentinian superstar bring a good save out of Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon.
Messi then won a free-kick just outside the area that he curled delightfully into the net, with defender Yeray Alvarez colliding with a post as he tried to clear the ball.
Yuri Berchiche saw a shot saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen at the other end soon after before Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele made unsuccessful attempts to boost Barca’s lead.
The visitors drew level four minutes after the break when Raul Garcia crossed and Alba’s interception sent the ball past Ter Stegen and in.
Simon did well again just before the hour mark as he saved a Miralem Pjanic header before being beaten by Griezmann, who fired in following a delivery from the right by Oscar Mingueza.
Athletic were unable to covert subsequent pressure into another equaliser, while Alba had an attempt saved in stoppage time.
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