Lionel Messi and Paulinho fire Barcelona past Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao 0 - 2 Barcelona

Lionel Messi and Paulinho fire Barcelona past Athletic Bilbao

28/10/2017

Lionel Messi and Paulinho hit the target as Barcelona crept past Athletic Bilbao to maintain their four-point lead in La Liga.

Messi started and finished a move in the 36th minute to score his 12th league goal of the season, but Barca were flattered by Paulinho's injury-time tap-in after a hard-fought evening at San Mames.

Both sides struck the woodwork, Messi and Paulinho for Barca and Raul Garcia for the hosts, while Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a couple of vital saves to preserve the points.

As well as strengthening his side's grasp on top spot, the result was also Ernesto Valverde's first as a visitor to the club he represented with distinction as player and manager for many years.

Aside from one Messi drive at goal, it was Bilbao who enjoyed the better of the first 20 minutes.

Inigo Lekue and Garcia came together well with a quick one-two, the latter's eventual shot blocked by Samuel Umtiti amid appeals for handball.

Inaki Williams and Aritz Aduriz were next to worry Barca, only for the veteran's soft header to release the pressure.

Aduriz missed an even better chance when Jordi Alba played him on as he went through on goal, blinking first as Ter Stegen stood tall then dropped to save a modest shot.

The visitors replied instantly, Luis Suarez combining with a marauding Messi before the Argentinean skipped round Kepa. A goal seemed a certainty but Messi allowed the angle to get the best of him and sent his shot against the outside of the post.

Remarkably, Messi has now been denied by the woodwork 10 times this season.

That merely proved his warning shot, though, and he made no such mistake when his next chance arrived.

Messi was involved early, feeding Alba from a deep position and charging towards the box. By the time he arrived the ball had too, and a clinical first-time finish was close behind.

Paulinho should have doubled the lead before half-time after Messi's pass, but the midfielder's shot clattered the crossbar.

The frame was shaking again in the 53rd minute, Bilbao unfortunate this time as Garcia rose highest to meet an Ander Iturraspe's corner.

Williams was continuing to cause problems for Barca, using a heady mix of pace and single-mindedness, but his production line of crosses was lacking a willing finisher.

Barca would have been eager to ease the tension with another goal but it refused to come, Unai Nunez making a well-judged sliding block just as Andre Gomes prepared to pull the trigger.

Nunez, who had earlier required treatment after taking an accidental blow to the head, was on hand again when Suarez launched a fierce shot at goal.

Barca were far from water tight at the other end, Inigo Cordoba stretching to reach another Williams ball but not managing to keep his shot down.

Ter Stegan pulled off his best work of the night with five minutes left, showing off stunning reactions to beat Aduriz's header back after he was left unmarked at a corner.

Bilbao were then punished in the final seconds in a Messi-led break. Suarez's shot was parried by Kepa but only as far as Paulinho, who clipped into the unguarded net.

Related news

Late Ousmane Dembele goal hands Barcelona Spanish Super Cup crown

Late Ousmane Dembele goal hands Barcelona Spanish Super Cup crown

Barcelona lifted the Spanish Super Cup for a record-extending 13th time by coming from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 on Sunday thanks to a stunning strike from France winger Ousmane Dembele and a penalty save in stoppage time from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Chelsea and Real Madrid agree fee for transfer of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea and Real Madrid agree fee for transfer of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois is set for a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid pending a medical, after the clubs announced they had agreed to a deal on Wednesday.

Barcelona agree deal to sign Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich

Barcelona agree deal to sign Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich

Barcelona have agreed a deal with Bayern Munich for Arturo Vidal, announcing the midfielder is set to sign a three-year contract.

Barcelona land Malcom from Bordeaux after outbidding Roma at 11th hour

Barcelona land Malcom from Bordeaux after outbidding Roma at 11th hour

Barcelona confirmed a deal to sign Malcom from Bordeaux on Tuesday, dramatically hijacking the Brazilian forward's move to Roma at the 11th hour.

Real Madrid hire Spain's Julen Lopetegui to take over as coach after World Cup

Real Madrid hire Spain's Julen Lopetegui to take over as coach after World Cup

Spain national team coach Julen Lopetegui will take over as Real Madrid manager after the World Cup, the Spanish club announced on Tuesday, just two days before the tournament begins in Russia.

Zinedine Zidane leaves Real Madrid after third Champions League title

Zinedine Zidane leaves Real Madrid after third Champions League title

Zinedine Zidane has shocked the football world by resigning as Real Madrid coach just days after winning a third consecutive Champions League with the La Liga giants.

Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in Andres Iniesta's final game with club

Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in Andres Iniesta's final game with club

Andres Iniesta's final Barcelona appearance ended in victory on an emotional evening at the Nou Camp.

Fernando Torres scores fairy-tale double in Atletico Madrid farewell

Fernando Torres scores fairy-tale double in Atletico Madrid farewell

Fernando Torres scored twice on his final appearance for 10-man Atletico Madrid in Sunday's 2-2 draw against Eibar.

Luca Zidane starts as Real Madrid blow two-goal lead in Villarreal draw

Luca Zidane starts as Real Madrid blow two-goal lead in Villarreal draw

Real Madrid blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Villarreal in their final La Liga match ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool.

RELATED NEWS

Late Ousmane Dembele goal hands Barcelona Spanish Super Cup crown
Sevilla 1 - 2 Barcelona

Late Ousmane Dembele goal hands Barcelona Spanish Super Cup crown

Barcelona lifted the Spanish Super Cup for a record-extending 13th time by coming from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 on Sunday thanks to a stunning strike from France winger Ousmane Dembele and a penalty save in stoppage time from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Chelsea and Real Madrid agree fee for transfer of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid news

Chelsea and Real Madrid agree fee for transfer of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois is set for a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid pending a medical, after the clubs announced they had agreed to a deal on Wednesday.

Barcelona agree deal to sign Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich
Barcelona news

Barcelona agree deal to sign Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich

Barcelona have agreed a deal with Bayern Munich for Arturo Vidal, announcing the midfielder is set to sign a three-year contract.

Barcelona land Malcom from Bordeaux after outbidding Roma at 11th hour
Barcelona news

Barcelona land Malcom from Bordeaux after outbidding Roma at 11th hour

Barcelona confirmed a deal to sign Malcom from Bordeaux on Tuesday, dramatically hijacking the Brazilian forward's move to Roma at the 11th hour.

Real Madrid hire Spain's Julen Lopetegui to take over as coach after World Cup
Real Madrid news

Real Madrid hire Spain's Julen Lopetegui to take over as coach after World Cup

Spain national team coach Julen Lopetegui will take over as Real Madrid manager after the World Cup, the Spanish club announced on Tuesday, just two days before the tournament begins in Russia.

Zinedine Zidane leaves Real Madrid after third Champions League title
Real Madrid news

Zinedine Zidane leaves Real Madrid after third Champions League title

Zinedine Zidane has shocked the football world by resigning as Real Madrid coach just days after winning a third consecutive Champions League with the La Liga giants.

Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in Andres Iniesta's final game with club
Barcelona 1 - 0 Real Sociedad

Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in Andres Iniesta's final game with club

Andres Iniesta's final Barcelona appearance ended in victory on an emotional evening at the Nou Camp.

Fernando Torres scores fairy-tale double in Atletico Madrid farewell
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Eibar

Fernando Torres scores fairy-tale double in Atletico Madrid farewell

Fernando Torres scored twice on his final appearance for 10-man Atletico Madrid in Sunday's 2-2 draw against Eibar.

Luca Zidane starts as Real Madrid blow two-goal lead in Villarreal draw
Villarreal 2 - 2 Real Madrid

Luca Zidane starts as Real Madrid blow two-goal lead in Villarreal draw

Real Madrid blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Villarreal in their final La Liga match ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool.