Barcelona rescued its La Liga title challenge on Sunday thanks to two goals in three minutes from Pedro and Lionel Messi, respectively, as the Catalan giant came from behind to beat fourth-place Athletic Bilbao, 2-1, at the Camp Nou. Aritz Aduriz put the visitor in front early in the second half until Pedro tapped home Alexis Sanchez’s scuffed shot in the 72nd-minute. Barley a minute later, Messi was brought down close to the area and the Argentina international stepped forward to drill home the resulting free kick from 20 yards.
The fact that the Camp Nou was only around 30 percent of its total capacity suggested that the fans have already made their minds up about coach Gerardo Martino. Even so, the win pulled Barca back to within four points of leader Atletico Madrid, which won 2-0 at home to Elche on Friday.
“It has to be considered how our rivals play against us,” Martino said of his team’s struggles during the game. “This is a problem Barca has had for a long time. When teams defend with many players near the penalty area, it’s an uphill battle.”
The Argentine tactician noted how Athletic wasted several chances to score, particularly in the first half. In the end, he said Messi proved to be the difference between the teams: “I was happy for [Messi’s] goal, for him and the team. He isn’t a big talker but he does his talking on the field. Out of 100 games, he plays well in 99 and always delivers.”