Lionel Messi’s fantastic solo goal — the first of his two goals — was the highlight of the Copa del Rey 2015 final, leading Barcelona to a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp on Saturday night. The Copa del Rey victory gave Barcelona a second cup this season, following their coronation as Spanish League champions last weekend, and leaves them seeking one more win — in the Champions League final next Saturday — to make this a historic treble-winning season.
Barcelona already had this Copa del Rey final under control as the clock ticked to the half-hour mark, pinning Athletic back into their own half with a superb display of attacking football, but the game was still scoreless when Messi struck.
And what an extraordinary goal it was.
Receiving the ball just over the halfway line in his customary position wide on the right, Messi started down the flank with three Bilbao players looking to curtail his movement. They seemed to have him boxed in, but with a drop of the shoulder and a burst of speed, he dragged them all down the field anyway. Then, he abruptly checked his run, cut inside — leaving one opponent for dead on the sideline — quickly poked the ball around a second, and simply sped past the third as he raced into the Bilbao penalty area. Once there, he cut inside a fourth Bilbao defender and then placed a rasping shot past goalkeeper Iago Herrerin and into the near post to give Barcelona the lead.
This was Messi’s 33rd goal in 50 Copa del Rey matches and it was a fantastic goal worthy of a Copa del Rey final.
The reaction on social media was instantaneous and overwhelming.
Messi also played a part in Barcelona’s second goal, swapping passes with Ivan Rakitic before Luis Suarez set up Brazilian Neymar, who tapped in from close range to make it 2-0 just ten minutes before half time.
The Argentine genius then all but secured the Copa del Rey with another delightful finish to make it 3-0 to Barcelona. This time, he nipped in between two Bilbao defenders to finish off a cross from Dani Alvez after more brilliant passing by Barcelona. Messi’s second goal made it a total of 120 goals this season — so far — for Barcelona’s attacking trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar, a new Spanish record for an attacking trio.
Athletic pulled one goal back late on — Inaki Williams beating Andre ter Stegen — but there would be no denying Barcelona a record 27th Copa del Rey win. Departing captain Xavi Hernandez, on as a substitute in his last appearance at Nou Camp, almost signed off with a goal, but his late free kick came back off the post.
With both La Liga and Copa del Rey 2015 secured, Barcelona now head to Berlin looking to complete a memorable treble against Juventus in the Champions League final next Saturday.
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)