|Barça players celebrate vs Athletic Bilbao|
After back to back games without a win, Barça hosted Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 at the Camp Nou with an aim of overturning a 2-1 first leg deficit and getting their first win of 2017. They did exactly that as they saw off Ernesto Valverde’s side 3-1 to progress to the Quarter finals 4-3 on aggregate.
Striker Luis Suárez regained his touch in front of goal and fired the opener for Barça before Neymar grabbed the club’s secokd from the spot. Saborit pulled one back for the visitors but Lionel Messi struck a beautiful free kick to give Barça the win.
Barça looked rigid in the first half but still dominated proceedings, and they should have levelled the tie on aggregate early on after a wonderful pass from Iniesta found Neymar who squared to Suarez who had the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out as the linesman raised his flag against Neymar for offside but replays showed the Brazilian was clearly onside and the goal should have stood.
Barcelona kept on fighting but created no clear chance, then ten minutes before the break, Suárez scored. Iniesta did well to win the ball in the opponent’s half, Messi got jold of it from a Neymar pass before making a through ball back to Neymar who made a pin point cross to Suárez, the Uruguayan striker tweaked his posture in style to fire in a fantastic volley and put Barça ahead, his 100th Barça goal in 120 games and MSN’s 300th.
Barça led in the break and one minute into the second half, Neymar continued what he started in the first half, terrorising the Bilbao defence. Eneko Bóveda fouled the Brazilian in the box after a fantastic run and he stepped up to take the penalty, sending Iraizoz the wrong way to make it 2-0 and ending his 10-game scoreless run.
Iñaki Williams who scored in the first leg pulled a great cross to find Saborit in the far post and the player headed past Jasper Cillessen to make it 2-1 and 3-3 on aggregate five minutes later.
After that goal Barça increased their urgency knowing they’re in a delicate situation. Alba, Neymar and Suárez all came close to scoring but it was Messi who killed the tie from a free kick.
Suárez was fouled by Beñat close to the box and having missed the first two free kicks, Messi would score his from his third trial in the game in beautiful fashion as he fooled Iraizoz by sending him the wrong way from 25 yards with a curler into the bottom right corner. Fantastic, his third free kick goal in 3 games.
Barça held on to the win and qualified for the last eight, keeping their hopes of winning a third consecutive cup crown alive.