Barcelona stretched their lead to nine points at the summit of the LaLiga standings as they edged out Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at the San Mames on Sunday evening. Raphinha scored the winner in first half stoppage time as the Catalans grabbed three crucial points in their quest for a first LaLiga title since the 2018-19 season.
Barcelona started the game on the front foot playing with great intensity thanks to their fluid attacking style. In a frantic opening, Ferran Torres shot wide in just the second minute while Robert Lewandowski spurned a golden opportunity for the visitors in the 17th minute.
The Pole found himself through on goal from Frenkie De Jong’s lovely weighted but was let down by his heavy second touch that allowed Bilbao keeper Julen Agirrezabala to gather.
Marc Andre ter Stegen then got down brilliantly to deny Iniaki Williams in the 32nd minute before the hosts rattled the bar thanks to Raul Garcia’s header from the following corner.
RAPHINHA BREAKS DEADLOCK
Barcelona finally made the breakthrough at the end of the half when Raphinha curled in a left-footed effort from inside the box after being picked out by Sergio Busquets. The referee initially ruled out the Brazilian’s goal for offside, but VAR intervened, and the goal stood as the former Leeds United winger was onside when he received the ball.
Both teams looked to garner clear-cut opportunities in the second half, and it was the hosts who went closest to restore parity in the 72nd minute.
Iniaki Williams released Alejandro Berenguer, but the latter rattled the post to pile on the frustration for the home faithful.
BILBAO GOAL RULED OUT BY VAR
Iker Muniain came close too but Ter Stegen once again came up with the goods to keep his clean sheet intact. Barcelona then breathed a sigh of relief when Inaki Williams’ goal was ruled out for handball just two minutes before the end as the Catalans held on for huge three points.
The result means that Xavi’s side now have 65 points from 25 games leading the pack while Bilbao lie ninth as their stuttering campaign continues.
Photo Credit: Imago / ZUMA Wire
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Women’s World Cup, Euro 2024 & Gold Cup
The New Home of MLS
- Price: $14.99/mo. for MLS Season Pass
- Watch every MLS game including playoffs & Leagues Cup
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & FA Cup
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $5.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & Brasileirāo