A second half brace for striker Neymar was all Barcelona needed in their 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao Saturday afternoon at Nou Camp. They were the first two goals of the La Liga term for the Brazilian, who looked more than healthy after the scary back injury he suffered during the World Cup.
Both goals were assisted by Lionel Messi in the final 11 minutes of play, and the Catalans moved to a perfect 3-0 on the season with nine total points.
Barcelona dominated both sides of the ball, overwhelming Bilbao with 15 total shots and eight on target, compared to just two good chances for Ernesto Valverde’s side. They also forced five corner kicks and maintained possession 61-39.
Bilbao keeper Gorka Iraizoz was the lone bright spot for his squad, totaling six saves, but received little help from his attackers.
To Iraizoz’s credit he kept Bilbao in the match until the 79th minute, when Barcelona quickly thwarted a Bilbao clearance at midfield and Messi finished off a fast break with scintiallting through ball to an uncovered Neymar for the left-footed ground strike to the bottom right corner of the net.
Five minutes later Messi sliced through the Bilbao backline, eluded three defenders and found Neymar wide open just above the penalty box for another quick, low shot and the 2-0 advantage.
It’s the second loss of the season for Bilbao, who ended the first La Liga wave with an impressive 3-0 victory over Levante before the international break, but couldn’t carry that momentum over against the Catalans.