Milestone man

BARCELONA, February 1

Lionel Messi scored his 650th goal for Barcelona while Antoine Griezmann struck the winner in a 2-1 home success over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Sunday, avenging a defeat by the Basque side in the Spanish Super Cup final.

Messi curled in a stunning free kick after 20 minutes for his milestone goal on the same day the club pledged to sue Spanish newspaper El Mundo for publishing the full details of the Argentine’s contract.

Ronald Koeman’s side recorded a fifth straight Liga win and moved above Real Madrid into second on goal difference with

40 points, 10 behind Atletico Madrid who have a game in hand.

Messi had missed a gilt-edged chance at the start when he fired straight at keeper Unai Simon and Barca spurned several more opportunities to increase their lead before halftime.

Athletic, who had won their previous five matches in all competitions in a flying start under new coach Marcelino, failed to get going but levelled in the 49th thanks to an own goal.

Jordi Alba tried to prevent Athletic’s Oscar de Marcos reaching a cross but instead prodded into the Barca net.

The hosts struggled to respond but finally restored their lead in the 74th when Griezmann, who had scored twice in the 3-2 Super Cup final defeat, arrived in the box to knock home a cross from defender Oscar Mingueza. — Reuters

Liverpool back in groove, Spurs slip up

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates with Jordan Henderson. AP/PTI

LONDON: Liverpool stayed in touch with Premier League leaders Manchester City as Mohamed Salah’s double earned them a comfortable 3-1 win at West Ham United but Tottenham Hotspur suffered a disappointing defeat on Sunday. For the second time in four days Liverpool enjoyed a visit to the capital as they followed Thursday’s 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur with an other dominant display. After five league games without a win had considerably weakened Liverpool’s grip on their title, they are suddenly ticking over again and with Manchester City visiting Anfield next weekend their hopes of defending their crown are intact. Salah, who had not registered in the league since December, scored two majestic goals after the break before Gini Wijnaldum added a third. Tottenham became the first side to lose at Brighton and Hove Albion in the league this season as they went down 1-0. reuters

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