Barcelona dropped points in LaLiga for a third successive game, but it could have been worse had Lionel Messi not set up Munir El Haddadi.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi set up fellow substitute Munir El Haddadi to rescue a late 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao, but the reigning champions still dropped points for a third successive LaLiga game.
Ernesto Valverde seemingly had one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Tottenham considering his decision to leave Messi in reserve, but he came on to set up Munir’s late equaliser and at least prevent Barca losing a second consecutive match.
Although Barca played some neat football at times in the first half, Athletic posed the greater danger going forward and deservedly went ahead just before the interval through Oscar De Marcos.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Barcelona: (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo; Rakitic, Roberto (Busquets 50), Vidal (Messi 54); Coutinho, Suarez, Dembele (Haddadi 79)
Unused subs: Vermaelen, Rafinha, Arthur, Cillessen
Goals: Haddadi (83)
Yellow cards: Rakitic, Busquets
Athletic Bilbao: (4-2-3-1) Simon; Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez (Nolaskoain 23), Balenziaga; Garcia, Etxebarria (Jose 66); Yuri, Garcia, Susaeta; Williams (Aduriz 80)
Unused subs: Oleaga, Lopez, Capa, Muniain
Goals: Marcos 40
Yellow cards: Alvarez, Garcia, Nolaskoain
Referee: Santiago Jaime Latre
The right-back picked a hole in Barça’s offside trap running onto a pass from Markel Susaeta, getting in behind Sergio Roberto, and finishing past Marc Andre ter Stegen.
It was the eighth goal conceded by Barcelona this season – they reached the halfway point of last season having only conceded nine goals.
It was not Athletic’s only chance either. Iñaki Williams went through but took too long to get his shot away from the edge of the six-yard box and was shepherded out to safety.
Barcelona had their chances too but Luis Suarez was missing his pal Messi. He had one chance running onto Nelson Semedo’s through ball but was foiled by Unai Simon in the Athletic goal. Suarez had tried to blast the chance through Simon’s legs but he denied the Uruguayan.
Simon would deny Suarez again before the break. This time the forward’s shot was aimed to creep in at the near post but the 21-year-old keeper, who has done such a good job of replacing Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, made the stop once more.