Barcelona, Jan 31 (efe-epa).- A goal by Lionel Messi in the first half and another by Antoine Griezmann after the break enabled Barcelona to chalk up a win over Athletic Club at Camp Nou on Sunday, with the visitors’ lone tally coming on an own goal by Jordi Alba.
The match was played before empty stands due to coronavirus gathering restrictions.
The win puts Barca in second place in La Liga – 10 points behind Atletico de Madrid – after garnering 15 ranking points in its last five outings and once again winning at home Leo Messi got the team on the board first in the 20th minute, scoring on a great free kick, his 650th tally for the Catalonian squad.
The day before, Barcelona had issued a statement denying any responsibility for leaking details about his current contract with the squad, details that Spain’s El Mundo newspaper had published indicating that the Argentine striker will earn more than 555 million euros (some $673 million) over four years, his contract expiring at the end of next season.
The team said it will take “appropriate legal action” against the daily.
After Messi found the twine on his neat curling shot, both Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele made unsuccessful tries to increase Barca’s lead.
But Athletic evened things up four minutes into second-half play when Raul Garcia fired a crossing shot and Jordi Alba intercepted it only to bump the ball the wrong way and into his own net past goaltender Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
There matters stood until Griezmann once again scored for Barca in the 74th minute, the tally that proved to be the game-winner for Ronald Koeman’s squad, who dominated the match in the second half, albeit not as decisively as in the first.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Umtiti, Araujo, Jordi Alba; Frenkie de Jong, Pjanic (Sergi Roberto, min. 67), Pedri; Dembele (Braithwaite, min. 87), Griezmann (Lenglet, min. 84) and Messi.
Athletic de Bilbao: Unai Simon; Capa (Lekue, min. 84), Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri; De Marcos (Berenguer, min. 66), Dani Garcia, Vencedor (Vesga, min. 66), Muniain; Williams (Villalibre, min. 84) and Raul Garcia.
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz showed yellow cards to Raul Garcia, Yerai, Athletic coach Marceloni Garcia, De Jong,Alba and Capa.