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LaLiga

Messi Nets Stunner As Barca Leapfrog Real

LaLiga

Result: FC Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Date: 31 January 2021

Venue: Camp Nou

FC Barcelona leapfrogged Real Madrid into second place on the LaLiga table after edging Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on Sunday night.

Lionel Messi returned from his suspension at the expense of Martin Braithwaite while Miralem Pjanic deputised for the suspended Sergio Busquets in  the Barcelona midfield.

Messi had a wonderful chance to give Barca an early lead in the sixth minute after going clear on goal from Antoine Griezmann's pass at the near post but his side-footed shot was saved by shot-stopper Unai Simon.

The Argentine eventually gave Ronald Koeman's charges the lead in the 20th minute with a superb curling free-kick that left Simon with no chance.

The hosts kept on putting Athletic under pressure, as  Messi sent Ousmane Dembele through on goal inside the box but he blasted his diagonal strike over the bar just before the break.

Marcelino's men found the equaliser four minutes after the break after Jordi Alba deflected the ball into his own net while trying to clear Raul Garcia's cross.

Pjanic came close to restoring the lead for Barca just before the hour-mark with a glancing header inside the six-yard box from Griezmann's delivery that was acrobatically parried away by SImon.

Griezmann eventually restored the Blaugrana's lead in the last quarter of an hour with a first-time finish into an empty net after a cut-back by Oscar Mingueza.

In the end, Koeman's men held on to clinch a 2-1 win that took them up to second on the log, but they sit 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid who have a game in hand.

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