Lionel Messi finally came out of his shell this season to lead FC Barcelona to a 2-3 victory away against Athletic Bilbao in their Spanish La Liga clash on Wednesday. The win takes Barcelona up to third place behind Real Madrid and leaders Atletico.

The match didn't start out well for Barca, with Bilbao taking an early lead in the 3rd minute thanks to Inaki Williams. It seemed like Barcelona's attack will be resting on the shoulders of their young guns once again as teenager Pedri scored the equaliser with a well-placed header in the 14th minute.

However, Messi soon got his gears going and hit the post twice before giving Barcelona the lead in the 38th minute off a Pedri backheel. In the second half, Messi doubled the lead after drilling the ball into the net from an assist by Antoine Griezmann.

Barcelona held on to the 1-3 lead for most of the match until Iker Muniain took a brilliant strike from 20-yards to find the net and pull one back to make it 2-3.

Bilbao could not find an equaliser in the closing minutes and Barcelona came home with three points, taking them up to third place after catching up to their backlog of matches. However, after having both played 17 games, Barca now has 31 points, still 5 adrift from Real Madrid who have 36 points in second place.

More importantly, Atletico Madrid is still leading with 38 points after having only played 15 games. There is still a lot of ground to cover if Barcelona wants to challenge for the title this season. If rumours are true that the Argentine star will be moving on to another club this summer, he will be wanting to go out with a bang.

Nevertheless, Barca fans will be relieved to see the team back in winning form after suffering a massive slump on the pitch and an internal crisis behind the scenes. If things continue to improve, it remains to be seen if Messi will be convinced to stay.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi scored twice in Barcelona's victory over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday. AFP / ANDER GILLENEA