MX23RW : Thursday, March 4 03:03:32| >> :120:13428:13428:
Apr 20, 2014 at 8pm UK at Camp Nou
Barcelona
2-1
Athletic Bilbao
Pedro (72'), Messi (75')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Aduriz (50')

Match Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Sports Mole dissects the action as Barcelona record a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona kept their La Liga title hopes alive with a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou this evening.

Aritz Aduriz handed Bilbao the lead after 50 minutes, but strikes from Pedro and Lionel Messi in the space of two second-half minutes secured all the points for the Catalan outfit.

The result means that Gerardo Martino's side are four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with four games remaining, while Bilbao are now just three points clear of fifth-place Sevilla in the fight for fourth position.

Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action between the two La Liga rivals.

Match statistics

Barcelona
Shots: 17
On target: 8
Possession: 56%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 16

Bilbao
Shots: 11
On target: 4
Possession: 44%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 17

Was the result fair?

The defeat was harsh on Bilbao due to the manner in which it occurred, but Barcelona will feel that they deserved to pick up all the points courtesy of chances created. But for some brilliant goalkeeping from Bilbao stopper Gorka Iraizoz, Barcelona would have led at the interval, but Bilbao also had opportunities and were worth their lead in the early stages of the second period. The Catalan outfit showed their character to respond, however, and might have made the score more comfortable in the latter stages. There was not that much between the two teams on the night, which is reflected by the scoreline.

Barcelona's performance

Martino's side entered the match off the back of three straight defeats in all competitions and unsurprisingly, they were tentative in the early exchanges. Possession was not too much of a problem, but Bilbao more than matched their opponents in terms of chances created in the opening 20 minutes or so. Barca improved as the half developed, however, and will feel that they deserved to lead at the break, especially after Alexis Sanchez had rattled the crossbar from close range. Bilbao quickly took the lead in the second period, but the home side responded to claim all the points. The likes of Messi, Pedro and Sanchez all struggled to influence proceedings for long spells, but came to the forefront in the latter stages. Martino can also be pleased with the performances of his two central defenders Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra.

Bilbao's performance

Bilbao have certainly been the surprise package in La Liga this season, with the Basque outfit the favourites to secure fourth position in the table and a coveted Champions League position in the process. Despite the defeat this evening, it was another positive performance. Aduriz continued his hot streak in front of goal with a brilliant opener, while centre-backs Mikel San Jose and Aymeric Laporte were also extremely impressive at the Camp Nou. Naturally, they dropped deeper as Barcelona took control in the second period and it was not too much of a surprise when the home side turned it around due to the flow of traffic. That said, Bilbao came ever so close to causing an upset this evening and had a glorious chance to secure a point late on when Mikel Rico struck a powerful effort towards the bottom corner, only for Mascherano to make a fine block. Ultimately, they leave Barcelona with nothing, but it is difficult to be too critical of their overall performance.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Gorka Iraizoz: Had Bilbao's experienced goalkeeper not been in such fine form this evening, it would have been more straightforward for Barcelona to claim the points. The Spaniard made four or five top-drawer saves at the Camp Nou as Pedro & Co. struggled to find a way past the 33-year-old. The stopper was also more than prepared to put his body on the line on a number of occasions, as well as demonstrating his brilliant distribution throughout the 90 minutes. Iraizoz did not deserve to be on the losing side this evening.

Biggest gaffe

Barcelona might have picked up all the points this evening, but Sanchez missed a quite incredible chance in the first period. Brilliant wide play from Pedro presented the Chilean with the ball on the edge of the six-yard box, but somehow he crashed his effort against the top of the crossbar when it looked easier to find the back of the net. In the end, it did not cost the home side, but it was still a quite incredible miss at this level of football.

Referee performance

Overall, it was a fairly quiet 90 minutes for referee Juan Martinez. The Spanish official issued just five yellow cards throughout the contest despite a number of feisty challenges in the middle of the park. The fact that the match was such an end-to-end and entertaining contest means that Martinez should be credited for his display.

What next?

Barcelona: The Catalan outfit will attempt to continue their pursuit of leaders Atletico when they travel to Villarreal next Sunday.

Bilbao: Bilbao welcome Sevilla to San Mames next weekend in what could be a decider for fourth position in La Liga.

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Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates his goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs UD Almeria at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on March 2, 2014
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Atletico MadridAtletico24184247163158
2Barcelona25165455223353
3Real Madrid25165443202353
4Sevilla24153634181648
5Real Sociedad25119542212142
6Real Betis25123103338-539
7Villarreal2581343327637
8Granada2596103142-1133
9Levante2571173534132
10Athletic Bilbao2486103428630
11Celta Vigo257993037-730
12Osasuna2577112333-1028
13Getafe2576122030-1027
14Valencia2569103035-527
15CadizCadiz2567122141-2025
16AlavesAlaves2557132039-1922
17EibarEibar25410112028-822
18Real Valladolid25410112336-1322
19ElcheElche2449112136-1521
20Huesca25311112236-1420

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