Messi leads Barcelona to Copa del Rey title

Barcelona, April 18

If Lionel Messi isn’t happy at Barcelona, it was impossible to tell when he scored two goals in another masterful performance to brush aside Athletic Bilbao and win the Copa del Rey.

Messi climbed into the tribune after leading the 4-0 win and lifted the trophy high above his head and turned to his team on the pitch below.

For his teammates, coach, and millions of anxious fans, it was easy to read so much into that broad grin, that vigorous shake of the huge cup.

Was Messi finally seeing the folly of ever thinking he could find a better home? Or was the club’s all-time leading scorer relieved that he could give Barcelona at least one more title before saying goodbye?

Messi did not mention his future after he received the trophy from Spain’s King Felipe VI, one of the few dignitaries along with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in attendance at a stadium closed to fans due to coronavirus restrictions.

Instead, Messi focused on those who were not able to share in the celebration.

“This is a very special cup for me to lift,” Messi said.

“It is too bad we cannot celebrate it with our family and fans. But that is the situation we have to accept.”

It was Barcelona’s record 31st cup win. — AP

Chelsea end Man City’s quadruple bid

London: Manchester City’s quadruple dream has been extinguished by Chelsea. Even more concerning could be the injury to Kevin De Bruyne for the ongoing pursuit of a treble. Chelsea will be back at Wembley Stadium next month for the FA Cup final after a 1-0 victory over City was clinched by Hakim Ziyech on Saturday. Pep Guardiola will return even sooner next Sunday with City for the League Cup final but with doubts over whether De Bruyne will be fit to face Tottenham. An 11-point Premier League lead makes collecting that trophy a near-certainty but there is also a first Champions League semifinal against Paris Saint-Germain. AP

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