Barcelona stroll to victory over Athletic

Doug Mendoza
March 20, 2018

FC Barcelona registered their 23rd win of the LaLiga season after beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at Camp Nou thanks to goals from Paco Alcacer and in-form Lionel Messi.

The Argentine scored for the sixth game in a row in all competitions and for the 25th time in this league campaign when he doubled Barca's lead in the 30th minute with a deadly strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

"We scored twice in the first half and could have really finished them off, then in the second half we took our foot off the pedal without realising", Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told a news conference. "We know that if we can keep going in the same manner, we will be even closer to our objectives".

Real Madrid are 15 adrift of Spanish league leaders FC Barcelona and now occupying the third spot in league standings with 60 points.

"Roma beat Chelsea 3-0, a team against which we struggled", he said after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge had preceded a Messi inspired 3-0 win at the Nou Camp.

Athletic caused very few problems for the Barca back line nor did they show any indication they could get back into the match.

"I hope that he can catch Messi in La Liga, it's important for him [Ronaldo] and for us", Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said.

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"Now, I try to make the team play more".

The Blaugrana's lead at the top of the table now sits at 11 points with nine games of the season remaining, although second-placed Atletico Madrid could close the gap back to eight points when they visit Villarreal later on Sunday.

Welsh star Gareth Bale was also on the scoresheet four minutes from time.

But Unal headed in an 82nd-minute equaliser for the hosts and turned home a stoppage-time victor as Villarreal climbed up to fifth. The Catalan side went in level at the break after Ronaldo's first goal and an equalizer from Cristhian Stauni, ahead of a second half which produced seven goals.

It was fairly remarkable that Messi and Alcacer's strikes were Barca's only goals of the opening 45 minutes given their complete control of the game.

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