Messi fires Barca to Cup final win

Afp, Madrid

19 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Messi fires Barca to Cup final win

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy at the end of the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) final against Athletic Club Bilbao at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville on Saturday. — AFP PHOTO

Lionel Messi scored twice, including a stunning solo goal, as Barcelona blew away Athletic Bilbao to win the Copa del Rey on Saturday, consigning their opponents to a second final defeat in two weeks.

The cup was won and lost in a whirlwind 12 minutes in Seville, which saw Barca score four times to clinch an emphatic 4-0 victory, with Messi at his devastating best.

It remains to be seen if his seventh Copa del Rey triumph is the last trophy Messi lifts in Barcelona colours but if this was to be a final flourish, the 33-year-old crafted a fitting farewell.

Messi's first goal, and Barca's third, started with the Argentinian in his own half before a charging run down the right and a surge forward into the penalty area gave him the chance for a simple finish.

Barcelona were almost ahead after four minutes as Sergio Busquets played in Messi, who rolled back for Frenkie de Jong but his sidefooted finish came back off the far post.

Sergino Dest dragged wide while Inigo Martinez had Athletic's best chance but as he stretched for the bouncing ball, he could only poke over.

Athletic seemed to have played their way into the match before half-time but Barcelona came out with renewed vigour, with Unai Simon making two brilliant saves to deny Antoine Griezmann and then Busquets, both from close range.

But when the resistance gave way, it became a collapse, with goals scored in the 60th, 63rd, 68th and 72nd minutes to leave Athletic's hopes in tatters.

First, Messi slipped in Dest down the right and his cross was diverted in by Griezmann before the second came from the opposite flank, Jordi Alba curled in a cross for De Jong to nod in.

The third was a spectacular from Messi, who started the move in his own half, leaping over one challenge and dodging another.

He took the ball back from Dest and drove down the right wing, away from three opponents and inside.

Messi twice played off De Jong, the second time after motoring forward into the penalty area, where he darted between two last Athletic defenders and slid the finish into the far corner.

His second, and Barca's fourth, was more straight-forward, Alba pulling a cross back for the Argentinian to tuck under a weak right hand from Simon and inside the post. For Athletic, there was no way back.


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