Another wonder-goal from Lionel Messi helped Barcelona clinch their 27th Copa del Rey crown as they outclassed Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at Camp Nou.
With the league title already in the bag, Saturday’s result secured a domestic double for Luis Enrique’s side and kept them firmly on course for a remarkable treble ahead of next week’s UEFA Champions League final against Juventus.
Athletic had come into the game looking to avenge their 2009 and 2012 final defeats at the hands of the same opponents, but rarely looked capable of causing an upset after Messi bagged a wondrous 57th goal of the campaign after 20 minutes.
Neymar duly doubled Barcelona’s advantage 10 minutes later and Athletic’s 31-year Copa drought was destined to continue when Messi added his second and Barcelona’s third on 74 minutes, with Inaki Williams’ reply coming far too late for the outgunned Basque side.
Barca’s fans in attendance, meanwhile, reserved their biggest ovation of the night for legendary midfielder Xavi, who was introduced from the bench early in the second half for the last domestic appearance of his remarkable 17-year spell at the club.
During a lively opening, Bilbao looked dangerous down the left through Mikel Rico and were almost gifted the lead on 10 minutes when Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Javier Mascherano found themselves on different wavelengths.
But having survived that early scare, Barcelona swiftly found their rhythm and had twice gone close through Luis Suarez by the time Messi fired them into the lead with yet another magnificent solo goal.
Picking the ball up wide on the right, the Argentina star slalomed his way into the box, leaving four defenders trailing in his wake before beating Bilbao goalkeeper Iago Herrerin at his near post.
The overworked Herrerin was then forced to deny Neymar and Gerard Pique in quick succession as a rampant Barcelona threatened to run away with the game.
Suarez went within inches of doubling his side’s advantage on the half-hour mark, but seven minutes later the Uruguayan combined delightfully with Ivan Rakitic to tee up Neymar for his 38th goal of the season.
Having enjoyed a let-off when Williams’ well-struck volley found the woodwork just before the break, the men in red and blue continued their all-out assault on the Bilbao defence as the second-half wore on.
Neymar wasted several good chances to make the game safe before Messi nipped between two defenders to slide home Dani Alves’ cross with 16 minutes left, rendering Williams’ late reply for Bilbao little more than a consolation.
Tensions rose at the end of the game as Neymar’s attempted showboating wound up Athletic defenders, but the contest was almost concluded on the most romantic of notes as Xavi curled a free-kick onto the post.
The Barca captain was all smiles moments later, however, as the final whistle sounded, leaving the Catalan club to focus upon next week’s Champions League clash with Juventus and the prospect of securing a second domestic and European treble.
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