La Liga wrap: Messi wins it for Barca

Lionel Messi’s 25th goal of the La Liga season gave Barcelona a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Catalans went ahead in the fourth minute when Dani Alves cut the ball back into the path of striker David Villa, who powered the ball into the back of the net.

The home side maintained their slender advantage until the break, but five minutes into the second half Bilbao were level when Iraola converted a penalty past second-string Barca goalkeeper Pinto.

Messi made sure the Spanish champions did not drop points however, when he netted in the 78th minute by flicking in Alves’ cross.

The win restores Barcelona’s five-point buffer atop the league, after Real Madrid had cut the deficit to two points with a victory on Saturday.

A flying start ensured Sevilla came away with a 1-0 win against Hercules at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Striker Negredo was involved early for the hosts, firing a spectacular inside-out left foot strike in the ninth minute that was kept out only by the cross bar.

The 25-year-old Spaniard then provided a moment of brilliance to set up his side’s goal, chesting the ball down to Serbian team-mate Ivan Rakitic, who fired home the winner in the 21st minute.

Osasuna ensured Espanyol’s losing streak continued as Jose Mendilibar’s men cruised to a 4-0 victory at the Estadio Reyno de Navarra.

Javad Nekounam struck a brace for the victors, before Lolo and Soriano added late goals to move Osasuna into 14th place on the table.

Bottom side Malaga denied fourth-placed Villarreal a first win in three matches with a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw at El Madrigal.

Argentine Marco Ruben put the home side ahead after 36 minutes, but the cellar-dwellers defied their position on the table by levelling in the 82nd minute through Uruguayan striker Sebastian Fernandez.

Elsewhere, a late penalty helped Racing Santander to a 1-0 triumph away to Getafe.

Racing’s Pinillos converted the spot kick in the 88th minute, following Getafe defender Marcano’s dismissal.

Deportivo La Coruna denied relegation-threatened Almeria victory in their 1-1 draw at Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos, with Aranzubia scoring a 90th minute equaliser for the visitors.