Barcelona secured yet another 1-0 win at the San Mames Barria thanks to a first half goal from Raphinha.
The Brazilian scored the all important goal in added time at the end of the first half, but Barca were made to sweat in the second half, conceding a disallowed goal in the final five minutes of the game.
Inside the opening two minutes, Ferran Torres would come within a whisker of giving the visitors the lead. The former Man City man contorted his body to brilliantly half-volley the ball goalward, but his effort just curled wide of the left post.
Sergio Busquets would be next to threaten the Athletic Club goal, drilling a first time shot from the edge of the box just over the crossbar after the home side failed to adequately clear their lines.
Athletic gave as good as they got throughout the first half and created two of the best chances of the half.
The first fell to Inaki Williams who, after cutting in from the right, forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a smart save at his near post.
The second came from the resulting corner kick, as Raul Garcia dived down to head Alex Berenguer’s set piece delivery past ter Stegen and onto the crossbar.
Bilbao were made to pay for those missed opportunities in added time at the end of the first half when Raphinha was found by Sergio Busquets on the right of the penalty area and, after controlling well, rifled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
A few minutes into the second half, Robert Lewandowski came close to doubling his side’s advantage. The Polish striker rose highest in the penalty area to get his head onto a wonderful cross from the marauding Alejandro Balde from the left flank, but could only divert the ball narrowly wide of the post.
After a very slow start to the second 45, Athletic finally showed some signs of life again in the final 20 minutes of the game. One of said signs of life was when Inaki Williams played the ball in behind Barca’s defence and into the path of Berenguer who, from a tight angle, hit the post following a deflection off Andreas Christensen’s foot.
Substitute Iker Munian was next to come close for the home side, with the Basque star forcing ter Stegen into a brilliant save with a curling effort from just outside the box.
Athletic Club finally thought they’d found a way past Barca’s seemingly watertight defence in the 87th minute through star man Inaki Williams. The forward latched onto a great ball in behind Barcelona’s defence from Gorka Guruzeta before finishing with aplomb, but after a lengthy VAR review the goal was ruled out for a hand ball from Munian in the lead up to the goal.
Amazingly, Athletico would miss three chances in the space of five seconds in added time at the end of the game. First Nico Williams missed the ball three-yards from goal after being gifted a glorious chance by his brother, next ter Stegen was forced into a great save by Yuri Berchiche and finally Marcos Alonso blocked a final effort on goal on his own line.
GK – Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 9/10 – Made three very stunning saves in the game. You can see why he’s conceded barely any goals this season.
RB – Sergi Roberto – 5/10 – Solid enough outing.
CB – Jules Kounde – 6/10 – Made a few very eye-catching tackles.
CB – Andreas Christensen – 5/10 – Tracked back well to prevent Berenguer from drawing level.
LB – Alejandro Balde – 6/10 – Got forward well at times.
CM – Gavi – 7/10 – Threw himself into every challenge like it was his last. A great, industrious, performance from the youngster.
CM – Sergio Busquets – 7/10 – His clever pass into Raphinha lead to the opening goal. Read play well throughout.
CM – Frenkie de Jong – 5/10 – Dropped slightly too deep to get the ball, especially when he was playing alongside Busquets.
RW – Raphinha – 7/10 – Finished well at a crucial time in the game.
ST – Robert Lewandowski – 4/10 – Just not on his game. Hold up play was meh and he never really looked like he was going to score on Sunday evening which is odd because he’s literally Robert Lewandowski.
LW – Ferran Torres – 3/10 – Almost scored a fantastic goal inside the opening two minutes but barely featured after that.
SUB – Franck Kessie – 2/10 – Did nothing when he came on. Barely ran the length of himself.
SUB – Marcos Alonso – 5/10 – Made a crucial late block.
SUB – Ansu Fati – 4/10 – Quiet when introduced.
SUB – Angel Alarcon – N/A.
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