BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored a stunning opener before adding a second goal to lead Barcelona to the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, giving the Catalan club its second of three possible trophies before it turns 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 star forward added a second goal after Neymar doubled the lead to build a 3-0 advantage as Barcelona claimed its record 27th cup title — and third in seven years, all at the expense of Bilbao.
Barcelona won the Spanish league two weeks ago and, led by Luis Enrique, has now won two major trophies for the first time since 2011. It finished last season without a major piece of silverware under former coach Gerardo Martino. It will have a chance to make it a rare treble when it plays 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.
“If Messi isn’t unstoppable, he is almost unstoppable, he conditions everything you do,” Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde said. “His first goal was incredible.”
Messi’s goals were his 57th and 58th of the season as he recorded his 23rd trophy for Barcelona. He has scored in all three Copa del Rey finals Barcelona has won with him. With Neymar’s 38th goal, the trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have tallied 120 through all competitions this season.
Thumbnail image via Twitter/@FOXSoccer