Barcelona 3-0 Athletic Club: Paco Alcacer and Aleix Vidal both got rare goals while Messi broke yet another club record.


After a week that focused on Barcelona having been robbed by a phantom goal, a comfortable 3-0 win laid those ghosts to rest – for now – and kept the defending La Liga champions on the heels of leaders Real Madrid.

Coasting to a 3-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, Luis Enrique’s men buried the Basques and saw superstar number 10 Lionel Messi become the club’s top scorer from free kicks.

Paco Alcacer, finally, scored his first league goal since joining from Valencia last year by turning in a pass from Neymar in the 18th minute. It was the sort of finish we had come to expect from the centre-forward whose early months at the Nou Camp have been nothing short of a disaster. The hope will be that, having broken his Liga duck, he can find some rhythm and form as Barca attempt to chase down Madrid.

Messi then whipped in an angled strike in the 40th minute, his 27th goal from a free kick for Barca, to break a club record.

Aleix Vidal scored the most impressive goal of the game by finishing off an audacious solo run and help further his rehabilitation into the squad.

Luis Enrique had made six changes to the team that beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in Wednesday’s King’s Cup semi-final first leg, resting top scorer Luis Suarez, and it looked a risky move as Athletic made a bold start, although the hosts’ quality soon shone through.

Barca stayed second in the standings, moving one point behind Real Madrid but have played two games fewer than the leaders, who are due to visit Celta Vigo on Sunday although the game is in danger of being postponed due to extreme weather conditions.

Third-placed Sevilla visit Las Palmas on Sunday and Atletico Madrid host Leganes later on Saturday.