Lionel Messi was Barcelona’s free-kick hero once more as the holders sunk Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to claim a rousing 4-3 aggregate triumph in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.
Trailing following a contentious 2-1 defeat in Bilbao last week, Barca had to wait for their breakthrough before it arrived in landmark fashion 10 minutes from half-time.
Luis Suarez volleyed his 100th goal for the club on the end of a move that fittingly featured Messi and Neymar – it was the 300th goal for MSN since the awesome forward trio began playing together in 2014.
Neymar won and converted a penalty early in the second period, but Athletic hit back through wideman Enric Saborit, a Barcelona-born product of the Espanyol youth system.
But Barcelona, looking for a win at their third attempt in 2017, were not discouraged and a familiar hero stepped forward.
Having arrowed a set-piece into the top left corner to snatch a 1-1 draw at Villarreal on Sunday, Messi deftly whipped an effort from similar range across the Bilbao wall and in off the right-hand post to stylishly book a quarter-final spot.
The first leg at San Mames prompted Gerard Pique’s week-long critique of Spanish officials and controversy arrived again after 26 keenly fought minutes, when Barcelona briefly though they were level on aggregate.
Neymar squared for Suarez to slot in a routine finish, but the Brazil captain had been incorrectly flagged offside when Andres Iniesta threaded a wonderful throughball
Athletic were forced into a change before the half-hour mark, with defender Xabier Etxeita coming off worse after hacking down Neymar.
Presented with a free-kick opportunity in a similar position to his last-gasp equaliser versus Villarreal on Sunday, Messi curled an attempt over, with Neymar having come in for more robust attention.