Athletic Club 0-1 Barcelona (Rakitic, 21')
Ivan Rakitic's goal handed Luis Enrique a 100th win as Barcelona boss on Sunday night as Los Azulgranas earned a hard-fought triumph over Athletic Club in Bilbao.
Six points from six for Barcelona
The three points see the defending champions move to two LaLiga victories out of two, but they were made to work hard for it at a rain-soaked San Mamés.
Indeed, Athletic should have been ahead before Rakitic's opener, Beñat Etxebarria spurning a glorious early opportunity after being put through by a poor clearance from keeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Rakitic heads in Turan's cross
Ten minutes later, Arda Turan's perfectly flighted cross met Rakitic's run into the area, and the Croat planted a firm header across Gorka Iraizoz and into the corner.
Arda then missed Barça's best chance to make it 2-0 ahead of the break, the Turk - in fine recent scoring form - firing wide at the near post when released in the box by Leo Messi's pass.
Second half brings chances for both teams
Not long after half time, Messi and Luis Suárez both might have extended the visitors' lead, before a spirited Athletic side also went close with efforts from Raúl García and Iñaki Williams.
Messi and Suárez again could have doubled Barça's advantage while, with time running out, Beñat almost found the net for Athletic with a sweetly struck free-kick as Los Leones pressed for an equaliser.
In time added on, a heroic goal-line block from Eneko Bóveda then prevented Suárez from finishing the guests' clearest opening of the second period as it ended 1-0.
Athletic remain pointless
Having lost their first LaLiga fixture of the season to Sporting Gijón last weekend, the defeat leaves Athletic still looking for their maiden points of the campaign.
Here's how it unfolded in Bilbao:
Peeep peeep peep! And that's that! Barcelona make it two league victories from two so far, and extend their top-flight winning run against Athletic to six. Ivan Rakitic's first-half goal was the difference for the visitors against a home team who gave it some welly in their bid to find an equaliser, but - despite their creditable display - are left with zero points after two league games.
Min 93 | What a goal-line clearance! Messi bursts in on goal and squares for Suárez, who looks for all the world like he'll push it into the net - but Bóveda's outstretched leg keeps it out!
Min 90 | Three minutes of added time at San Mamés.
Min 89 | Athletic are shouting for a penalty as Muniaín looks to get past Rakitic on the left and, when the pair end up on the byline just inside the box, tumbles under the Croat's attentions. Nothing doing, and Piqué cordially informs Muniaín he thinks he might have made rather to much of that.
Min 87 | Athletic come again and win a corner. But Beñat can't beat the first man. "I hate it when they do that," harrumphs my colleague in the AS newsroom.
Min 86 | So close from Beñat! Athletic earn a free-kick in shooting territory, slightly right of centre. The midfielder steps up and curls his effort just wide and into the side-netting - for a moment it looked like it had found the corner. Ter Stegen was beaten.
Min 83 | Beñat is booked for a foul on Messi, and Arda is substituted for Rafinha, back from winning Olympic gold with Brazil.
Min 80 | Almost two for Barça from Suárez! Athletic almost find a way through the Barça backline with forays first from Williams and García then Muniaín, before Sergi Roberto sets Suárez scurrying into the box. He does well to cut inside both Bóveda and Laporte, but curls his shot wide of Iraizoz's far post.
Min 75 | Third and final sub for the home team, Susaeta being taken off and Iker Muniaín scuttling on in his stead.
Min 71 | Barcelona take off Umtiti for Javier Mascherano, while André Gomes comes on for a league debut in place of Denis.
Min 70 | There's a chance for Barça to get their second! Arda feeds Suárez with a lovely, outside-of-the-boot pass, before the Uruguayan backheels to Messi to shoot just inside the box. But he blasts over.
Min 69 | Athletic continue to look for a leveller, but won't be equalising with an ambitious effort from Susaeta that flies high from range.
Min 66 | Now Williams shoots after being found by Aduriz inside the box, but Ter Stegen clutches hold of it.
Min 65 | Close from Raúl García! Aduriz advances towards the Barça box and feeds the newly introduced former Atlético Madrid man, who gets it out of his feet on the edge of the box and fires low - but just past Ter Stegen's right-hand post.
Min 64 | Williams drifts it into the box with his left and Aduriz flops to the turf as he tussles with Busquets. Mateu Lahoz doesn't look impressed.
Min 62 | Eraso is booked for a foul on Rakitic, before a double substitution for Athletic: the man just booked is off for Raúl García, and Iturraspe is replaced by Mikel Vesga.
Min 61 | That's a joyous ball from Messi to split the Athletic backline and send Suárez in on Iraizoz, who saves his poked effort - but he was offside, anyway.
Min 58 | Sergi Roberto is the next man into Mateu Lahoz's book of naughty boys after body-checking Beñat.
Min 57 | Chance for Suárez! Sergi Roberto again joins in to great effect down the right, freeing Rakitic to swing over a cross right onto the Uruguayan's boot at the far post. The ex-Liverpool striker tries to guide it on the volley back across Iraizoz and into the other corner, but shanks it off his shin, and it's off target.
Min 55 | Ander Iturraspe is booked deservedly, to say the least, for a combo tug-him-back-and-hack-at-his-legs move on Busquets.
Min 54 | Ufff! Messi is a couple of inches away from beating Iraizoz there. He receives the ball just outside the area and, as is very much his wont, he cuts across the backline and gets himself in position to shoot at the keeper's right-hand corner on his left peg. But it's juuust wide.
Min 51 | Barça win a corner down the right that Gerard Piqué heads softly up and into Iraizoz's arms...and the defender is down - it's not clear exactly what's wrong with him, but it's fair to say the home fans aren't united in their sympathy for his plight.
Min 46 | As in the first period, Athletic start on the attack, Aymeric Laporte heading over from a corner and taking a whack from team-mate Aduriz in the process.
Peep! Back underway in Bilbao. No changes.
Peeep peepity peep! That's half time at a rain-soaked San Mamés, where Athletic and Barça have served up a thoroughly watchable first 45. Athletic have given as good as they've got, and - aided by Ter Stegen's apparently unremedied overconfidence with ball at feet - could and should have got themselves on the scoresheet. Barça, meanwhile, might have gone in two to the good had Arda buried that chance late on in the first half. See you in fifteen.
Min 45 | Susaeta gets a merited booking for hacking at Arda.
Min 44 | Should be 2-0 to Barça. Messi conjures up another of his trademark diaganol through balls from right to left to find Arda steaming into the area and one on one with Iraizoz. The Turk has been in such good scoring form of late that you'd almost put the proverbial house on the net bulging...but he sclaffs it wide past the near post. Suárez is absolutely doing his nut in the middle.
Min 42 | Now Athletic are calling for a spot-kick as Eraso advances into the area and claims he's been handed off by Umtiti. The man in the middle is unmoved.
Min 40 | Beñat is the next to have a go, trying his luck from range with a shot that's comfortable for Ter Stegen.
Min 38 | Aduriz! The Spain striker brings it foward and fires left-footed at goal. but Ter Stegen is equal to his low effort.
Min 37 | Barça are furious, and there are yellows for dissent for Busquets and Suárez! Beñat goes down under non-existent contact from Denis, but Mateu Lahoz buys the Atheltic midfielder's tumble hook, line and sinker and gives the home side a free-kick. The visitors are not best pleased, to say the least, particularly in light of their recent penalty shout.
Min 36 | Messi almost has Barça two up as he looks to place a right-wing cross across Iraizoz and into the far corner with a deft header, but Athletic's keeper gets his hand to it.
Min 35 | Umtiti fires it over! Messi sends in a free-kick from the left, and Williams' attempted clearance skews off his bonce and right at the French defender, who slaps it first time towards goal - but it's high.
Min 34 | Messi slips the ball into Sergi Roberto arriving on the right of the box like an express train, and he knocks it first time for Denis to fire straight at Iraizoz at the second attempt.
Min 29 | Denis Suárez tumbles to the turf under the challenge of Williams just inside the Athletic area and is screaming for a penalty - but Mr Mateu Lahoz gives it the other way, to Barcelona's clear aggrievement.
Min 27 | Busquets almost does a Ter Stegen there, receiving the ball out of the back and doing his very best to lay it on a platter for a red and white shirt to run through on his German colleague. He slides in and just manages to keep possession, through.
Min 22 | Athletic look to hit back immediately, winning a free-kick that's pretty much a carbon copy of the previous two Beñat has had to send in. His delivery is cleared before finally coming back to him to cross once more, only for Ter Stegen to step off his line and take.
Min 20 | Goooooal for Barcelona! Ivan Rakitic with the header! Athletic have given their guests a decidedly uncomfortable opening 20 minutes, but it's Luis Enrique's men who take the lead as Arda picks it up on the left-hand corner of the box before curling a delicious ball to meet the run of Rakitic, who plants his finish across Iraizoz and into the opposite corner.
Min 19 | Messi is almost in, but Gorka Iraizoz is off his line quickly to clear the danger. This has been fun so far.
Min 18 | Williams outmuscles Jordi Alba and races forward to fire it low into the box, but Umtiti is in position to get in the way. Barça eventually clear and break up the other end, Busquets feeding Messi to cross from the right, but Beñat is there to intercept the delivery with Suárez waiting to do his thing at the back stick.
Min 15 | Barcelona are not enjoying themselves at the mo. Williams advances down the right and zips in another cross from the right, which Ter Stegen again gathers.
Min 11 | What a chance for Beñat! Ter Stegen gets his clearance all wrong, passing it right to Beñat, who's pretty much through on goal - but the ex-Real Betis player brings it into the area and goes for power instead of placement, blasting it off the German keeper's face. A massive let-off for Ter Stegen.
Min 10 | Iñaki Williams fires in a dangerous cross towards the incoming Susaeta from the right, but Marc-André ter Stegen clutches onto it. It's been a bright first ten minutes from the hosts.
Min 9 | Samuel Umtiti is the first man into the book for handball, and it's another chance for Beñat to swing a free-kick in. It's better this time, but it evades everyone.
Min 7 | Athletic win themselves a free-kick in the right-hand channel, in a prime position for Beñat to deliver. His cross doesn't beat the first man, though. That's a waste.
Min 5 | Ufff, Luis Suárez is only just offside there, otherwise it was 1-0 to the away side. Messi gets himself on the ball and pings a diagonal to the Uruguayan advancing into the area on the left. He squares for Arda, who has a tap-in, but the flag is up. Replays show that the line-o got it right.
Min 4 | First forward foray from the visitors, and what a foray it almost proved to be as Leo Messi fed Denis Suárez in acres of space to shoot on the edge of the box - but the youngsters curls high.
Min 3 | It comes to zip.
Min 2 | Athletic start on the front foot, Markel Susaeta's cross into the box cleared before Los Leones come again and Aritz Aduriz does well to force a corner on the right.
Min 1 | Athletic have lost their last five in LaLiga against Barça. Can they bring that particular run to an end tonight?
Peeep! And they're off! Barça in their change colours of blue and, um, pink.
2 mins to kick-off | There's a minute's silence in honour of former Athletic Club president Pedro Aurtenetxe, who died in July.
5 mins to kick-off | And the teams make their way on to the field!
The teams are out!
Athletic XI: Iraizoz, De Marcos, Bóveda, Laporte, Balenziaga, Beñat, Iturraspe, Williams, Eraso, Susaeta, Aduriz
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Denis, Messi, Suárez, Arda
Athletic Club-FC Barcelona (preview)
Tonight's Athletic - Barça match brings to the end "Semana Grande" (Aste Nagusia), a week of festivities and parties in the Basque city. Athletic fans are hoping that their side can maintain the sense of goodwill in the city with a win over the current LaLiga champions tonight (kick-off 20:15 CET) after the disappointment of last weekends 2-1 loss in Gijon.
Barça have the utmost respect in visiting San Mamés (alluded to by Luis Enrique in his pre match press conference) but trips to the capital of Vizcaya have been kind to the Catalan side in the past decade with 5 wins, 4 draws and just one defeat.
With Iniesta still absent due to injury, new summer acquisition Andre Gomes is set to play in a game that could see Barça coach Luis Enrique secure his one hundredth win for the club and claim the record of the coach to reach that milestone in the fewest amount of games (126). It took Pep Guardiola 139 games to reach the "ton" of victories.
For Athletic, coach Valverde will look to the striking duo of Williams and Aduriz to cause the Barça rear-guard problems in the backdrop of a San Mames stadium with a new roof to keep out the infamous Basque meteorological conditions.
Athletic need to win to kick start their season and quieten the murmur of dissent among the San Mames faithful, Barça need to win to maintain pace with Real Madrid at the top of the table.
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