Athletic Bilbao 1 Barcelona 1: Barcelona fall further behind after Bilbao slip-up

The Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, had urged his side to be more ruthless in-front of goal after scoring just once in their last two matches. "Every goal need not be a work of art" he said.

But Barça continue to overelaborate in the final third and, after failing to kill off Athletic Bilbao, they surrendered their first-half lead and dropped two valuable points in the title race.

In the 79th minute Fernando Llorente ghosted in ahead of Lilian Thuram as both chased an Aitor Ramos centre. Both he and the French defender went to ground and with Thuram appearing to get the crucial last touch the ball was steered past Victor Valdes in the visitors' goal.

Barcelona responded and Leo Messi's cross was just too high for Eidur Gudjohnsen but it was Athletic who looked most like taking all three points with a last ditch challenge from Thuram preventing Llorente getting a winner.

Messi was back in the starting line-up in the league for the first time since his two-month injury lay-off and he was the player who gave Athletic most of their early problems.

The Argentine striker went close on 17 minutes only to be thwarted by Daniel Aranzubia in the home side's goal. But Valdes was also a busy man, getting down to stop a Javi Martinez effort on the half-hour.

Athletic had a great chance to take the lead soon after, but Aritz Aduriz blasted over when through. Barcelona made Athletic pay immediately with a goal on 35 minutes from Bojan Krkic. The 17-year-old finishing after Deco's had pounced on a mistake.

As tempers flared right on half-time the Athletic midfielder Javi Martinez went into the book for a crude challenge on Andres Iniesta and the second period began with the same intensity but it was Barça who held the ascendancy.

Messi was again the major threat and twice he penetrated the left-hand side of Athletic's defence, first crossing for Thierry Henry to shoot wide and then setting up Deco who blasted over.

But then Barcelona began to allow the home side back in. Xavi gifted Athletic possession on the edge of his own box and Javi Martinez drilled his shot hard and low to the Valdes' right only for the keeper to some how save.

With 11 minutes left on the clock Barcelona let the lead and part of their title hopes slip away. And things got worse later in the evening when Real Madrid edged Valladolid 3-2 to open up a nine-point lead.

Goals: Bojan (34) 0-1; Llorente (78) 1-1.

Athletic Bilbao (4-4-1-1): Aranzubia; Koikili, Ocio, Ustaritz, Iraola; Susaeta (Garmendia, 46), Orbaiz, Javi Martinez (Llorente, 69), D Lopez; Yeste; Aduriz (Ramos, 46). Substitutes not used: Del Horno, R Fernandez, Gabilondo, Prieto.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes, Zambrotta, Puyol, Thuram, Sylvinho, Iniesta, Xavi (Edmilson, 63) Deco, Bojan (Gudjohnsen, 77), Messi, Henry. Substitutes not used: Oleguer, Pinto, Giovani, Abidal, Milito.

Booked: Athletic Bilbao Orbaiz, Martinez, Susaeta.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own