Messi’s brace fires Barcelona to 3-1 Copa del Rey victory  

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Barcelona, May 31 (IANS) Two goals by Lionel Messi set the seal on a second title for Barcelona this season, with their conquest of the Copa del Rey in this match coming on the heels of the La Liga championship the Catalans giants won earlier this month.

Barcelona overwhelmed Athletic Bilbao 3-1 on Saturday in an unequal match in which the Argentine striker ruled. With this win, Luis Enrique’s team scored its third straight victory in a final against Athletic Bilbao, following those it won in 2009 in Valencia and in 2012 in the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, reports Efe.

Athletic never really got into the game, and minute 20th was the beginning of the end. An unstoppable Messi eluded Mikel Balenziaga, unbelievably outpaced Beñat Etxebarria and Mikel Rico, dodged Aymeric Laporte and so many others to finally slam the ball past the near post to put his team ahead 1-0.

Athletic were on the defensive and Barcelona grew exponentially stronger, though Lago Herrerin kept Neymar and Gerrard Pique from scoring a couple of almost-goals for Barcelona.

But Neymar got even before the break – it all began with a fine triangulation between Messi and Dani Alves and a pass slipped by Ivan Rakitic to Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan, back in action after a muscle injury, got the ball to Neymar who made it 2-0 in the 36th minute.

With everything going their way, Barcelona played a calm, intelligent second half, giving the impression that they were in total control and that Athletic were desperate.

Taking a pass from Alves, who might have played his last match at the Camp Nou stadium, Messi beat all the defenders to make it 3-0 at a quarter of an hour from the end.

Iñaki Williams saved a little face for Bilbao, however, and made it 3-1 in the 79th minute.

That was it — the second title of the season for Barcelona and the sixth double in the history of a club that could make it a triple next week in Berlin if it succeeds in beating Juventus F.C. of Turin in the European Champions League final.

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