Messi free kick puts Barca in Copa del Rey quarterfinals


MADRID — Lionel Messi came through for Barcelona again, scoring with a perfectly struck free kick to give the defending champions a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao and a spot in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

Messi fired a remarkable low strike into the right corner in the 78th minute at Camp Nou to help the Catalan club reverse a 2-1 first-leg loss and advance 4-3 on aggregate.

It was Messi’s third decisive free kick goal in the last three Barcelona matches. In addition to scoring in the first leg against Athletic, the Argentina playmaker saved Barcelona from a loss in the Spanish league on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Atletico Madrid became the first team to reach the quarterfinals.