Messi helps Barcelona end skid at 3

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi ended Barcelona's run of three straight losses and kept it in the Spanish league title chase by scoring a late free kick to complete its 2-1 comeback win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Messi's 75th-minute goal answered some of the criticism the club's all-time leading scorer had received for his lackluster performances in the team's recent losses in the league, Champions League and Copa del Rey final.

Barcelona was on its way to another defeat when Aritz Aduriz scored in the 50th, provoking a smattering of white handkerchiefs in the Camp Nou stands, but Pedro Rodriguez equalized when he slotted in Alexis Sanchez's scuffed strike in the 72nd.

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