Lionel Messi boosts Barcelona as it closes up on Real Madrid

    Lionel Messi celebrates his opening goal in Barcelona's win at Athletic Bilbao.

    Story highlights

    • Barcelona beats Athletic Bilbao 5-2 in La Liga clash
    • Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on target for Barca as it cuts gap to Real Madrid
    • Manchester United grabs late draw at West Ham
    • Roma closes gap on Juventus in Italy to seven points

    (CNN)Barcelona took full advantage of arch-rival Real Madrid's humiliating derby defeat to close the gap in the La Liga title race to just one point with thrilling 5-2 win over Athletic Bilbao Sunday.

    Lionel Messi gave Barca the perfect start by grabbing his 33rd goal of the season and had a hand in his team's other four goals at the San Memes stadium.
      Messi's opener had a touch of fortune as it came from a deflected free-kick and he set up Luis Suarez for the Uruguay forward to double the advantage before halftime.
      Athletic refused to lie down and Mikel Rico pulled a goal back on the hour mark before Messi's goalbound header was then turned into his own net by Oscar de Marcos.
      The Catalan giants went 4-1 ahead when Neymar scored his 23rd of the season, Messi again with the assist.
      Aritz Aduriz pulled another goal back for Athletic but the home team's hopes ended when Xabier Etxeita was shown a straight red card for a nasty challenge on Suarez before Pedro Rodriguez added a fifth.
      It was the ninth straight win for Barca, who will have taken heart from seeing Real thrashed 4-0 by reigning champions Atletico Madrid Saturday.
      Man Utd held
      Barcelona's fellow European powerhouses Manchester United missed the opportunity to close up in the English Premier League title race when it was held 1-1 at West Ham.
      The home side looked set to secure all three points after a superb piece of skill from Senegal's Cheikhou Kouyate just after half time at Upton Park.
      He turned and volleyed home to put the Hammers ahead, but United kept battling and Daley Blind crashed home an equalizer in injury time.