Barcelona recorded a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga as Xavi's men took yet another crucial step in the Spanish title race.
Barcelona recorded a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames on Sunday night, March 11, in LaLiga.
The hosts were hoping to avoid a defeat against the high-flying league leaders following a three-game winless run in the league.
Barcelona was first to ask the questions as Ferran Torres saw his effort fly a whisker wide of the left post two minutes into the contest.
The hosts responded in kind four minutes later with Nico Williams making a dashing run into the Barcelona 18-year-box before blazing his attempt wide.
The visitors dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes and kept creating chances and was an even opening half.
However, in the 17th minute, Robert Lewandowski found himself one on one with Bilbao goalkeeper Agirrezabala but saw his attempt saved after taking a touch too many.
Four minutes later, Andreas Christensen rose highest from a corner but couldn’t place his header on target.
Bilbao came close to opening the scoring after Inaki Williams let fly in the 33rd minute from close range, only to see his effort saved brilliantly by Marc Andre Ter Stegen.
A minute later, the resulting corner saw Raul Garcia’s header come off the crossbar in what was a close scare for the Catalans.
The contest looked like both teams would be headed for halftime with nothing to separate both sides until a moment of brilliance from Sergio Busquets who found Raphinha, with the Brazilian firing home clinically from close range.
The goal was initially ruled out for offside but a VAR intervention ensured the league leaders went into the break with the advantage.
Barcelona resumed from where they left off in the first half creating the chances with Lewandowski blazing his header wide from close range in the 52nd minute after a brilliant run and cross by Alejandro Balde.
However, Atletico contested really well and started to ask questions of the Barcelona defence.
Iker Munain came close to scoring in the 79th minute after his effort was saved by Ter Stegen from close range.
The hosts thought they had levelled matters after a brilliant solo effort from Inaki Williams in the 88th minute ended up in the back of the net.
But Bilbao’s celebration was cut short after VAR ruled out the effort due to a handball by Munain in the build-up.
Barca managed to see out a nervy ending in the match, surviving a series of attacks from Bilbao who looked hellbent on getting a result against the Blaugrana.
But in the end, Xavi’s team ran out with all three points, after a hard-fought win against Ernesto Valverde’s men.
The win for Barcelona now stretches their lead at the top of the summit to nine points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid.
Man of The Match
In what has been the story of the Blaugrana's season, Marc Andre Ter Stegen put in yet another massive shift for the league leaders.
Ter Stegen was largely the reason the Catalan giants didn't conced on the night, having made three crucial saves inside the box.
The 30-year-old German international looked assured, composed and always alert with a commanding presence in the area, as the visitors recorded their 18th clean sheet in LaLiga this season.
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