football

Lionel Messi double boosts Barcelona as Pochettino begins PSG reign with draw


Lionel Messi was at the top of his game as Barcelona earned a 3-2 win at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday to move up to third in La Liga.

Ronald Koeman’s side arrived at San Mamés unbeaten in six league games but fell behind in the third minute. Iñaki Williams latched on to a low through ball, beating one defender before firing into the net to get new Athletic manager Marcelino’s debut off to a dream start, but Barça responded with a sensational team goal.

Messi delivered a superb pass to pick out Frenkie de Jong by the byline, and the Dutchman volleyed the ball back across the area for 18-year-old Pedri to head home. Messi and Pedri then combined beautifully to put the visitors ahead in the 38th minute, the youngster playing a back-heeled one-two with Messi, who finished neatly.

The Barcelona captain struck again in the 62nd minute to finish off another brilliant team move and had chances to complete his hat-trick. Iker Muniain made for a tense finale by scoring for Athletic at the death, but Barça held on to move five points behind Real Madrid and seven behind Atlético, who have two games in hand.

Atlético Madrid may be flying high in La Liga, but they suffered an embarrassing exit from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Segunda B side Cornellà. Adrián Jiménez fired the hosts in front after seven minutes and Atlético were unable to respond, with right-back Ricard Sánchez sent off midway through the second half.

Diego Simeone rested some first-choice players but still fielded a strong side with João Félix, Renan Lodi, José Giménez, Saúl Ñíguez, Felipe and Ángel Correa all starting. Felix and Giménez were withdrawn after picking up injuries as Atlético went out of the cup to third-tier opposition for the second year in a row.

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Mauricio Pochettino gives instructions to Marquinhos during PSG’s draw with Saint-Étienne.
Mauricio Pochettino gives instructions to Marquinhos during PSG’s draw with Saint-Étienne. Photograph: Laurent Cipriani/AP

In Ligue 1, Mauricio Pochettino’s managerial tenure at Paris Saint-Germain got off to an underwhelming start with a 1-1 draw at Saint-Étienne. Romain Hamouma fired Claude Puel’s side in front after 19 minutes, and while Moise Kean fired PSG level three minutes later the visitors were unable to find a winner.

PSG move up to second above Lille, who fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat at home to Angers. Romain Thomas’s early double was enough to move the visitors up to seventh, and allowed Lyon to open up a three-point lead at the top. Memphis Depay scored twice as Rudi Garcia’s side edged a 3-2 home win over Lens.

Former France coach Raymond Domenech returned to club management with Nantes, 10 years on from Les Blues’ 2010 World Cup exit, as the Canaries held Rennes to a goalless derby draw. Dimitri Payet’s late solo effort helped Marseille to a 3-1 win over Montpellier, while Monaco thrashed Lorient 5-2.

Internazionale’s eight-match winning run in Serie A came to an end as they slumped to a shock 2-1 loss at Sampdoria, with Alexis Sánchez missing a penalty. Two former Inter players did the damage, with Antonio Candreva opening the scoring from the penalty spot after Sánchez saw his early effort saved by Emil Audero.

Keita Baldé fired the hosts 2-0 up before half-time, with Stefan de Vrij’s 65th-minute header offering scant consolation. “It was a strange match,” the Inter manager Antonio Conte said afterwards. “Sometimes you lose games like this, where you don’t deserve it.”

Keita Baldé celebrates after scoring for Sampdoria.
Keita Baldé celebrates after scoring for Sampdoria. Photograph: Tano Pecoraro/AP

Inter’s defeat and Milan’s later loss at home to Juventus helped Roma move within four points of the top as they brushed aside bottom club Crotone at Stadio Olimpico. Spanish forward Borja Mayoral was the star, scoring two fine goals in the first half-hour and then earning a penalty, converted by Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the hosts won 3-1.

Lazio and Atalanta boosted their top-four hopes with home wins. Ciro Immobile’s 15th goal in as many games earned Lazio a 2-1 home win over Fiorentina, while Atalanta beat Parma 3-0. Goals from Luis Muriel, Duván Zapata and Robin Gosens piled pressure on visiting coach Fabio Liverani, with Parma dropping into the relegation zone as Torino earned a point at home to Verona.

Elsewhere, Spezia ended their seven-game winless run with a shock win at Napoli despite Adrian Ismajli’s dismissal as Tommaso Pobega’s late winner earned a dramatic win for the 10-man visitors. That result allowed Sassuolo to climb into fifth as Giacomo Raspadori’s late goal sealed a 2-1 home win over struggling Genoa. Promoted Benevento continued their impressive campaign with a 2-1 win at Cagliari.



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