Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Dani
Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano; Thiago, Busquets, Iniesta (Xavi 77');
Alexis (Keita 83'), Messi, Tello (Pedro 61'). 4-3-3.
Athletic: Iraizoz; Iraola, Javi Martínez, Ekiza, Aurtenetxe; De Marcos, Iturraspe, Iñigo Pérez (Ander Herrera 46'); Susaeta, Toquero (Llorente 58'), Ibai Gómez (Muniain 46'). 4-3-3.
1-0. 40. Iniesta. Ran on to Messi pass and thrashed shot in to roof of net.
2-0. 58. Messi (penalty). After Javi Martínez pushed over Tello in area.
Yellow cards: Toquero 51', Iturraspe 55', Javi Martínez 57', Busquets 65'.
Real Madrid's victory at Osasuna earlier on Saturday evening meant that Barcelona had to win their game against Athletic Bilbao to stay in touch with the leaders, and the Catalans duly obliged with a 2-0 victory which kept them within six points of their arch-rivals. The vagaries of the calendar meant that Bielsa's side had to play less than 48 hours after their gruelling Europa League tie with Schalke, and the coach left several of his big guns on the bench at the start. Their replacements though were unable to make much headway, and despite having more possession than most in the Nou Camp, they hardly troubled Valdés until Piqué cleared off the line from Muniain with ten minutes to go. Thiago had a strike ruled out for a borderline offside though and Aurtenetxe headed an effort from Piqué off the line at the other end, and after Iraizoz flung himself across to keep out a quick Messi free kick, Iniesta finally opened the scoring after running on to Messi's through ball five minutes before the break. Bielsa brought on Muniain and Ander at half time and Llorente a few minutes later, but even so it was more of the same, Iraizoz saving from Tello before the youngster won his side a penalty which Messi converted. After that Keita hit the bar and Messi and Pedro brought more good saves out of the keeper, but the job was already done, and thoughts turned to Tuesday night's Champions League game with Milan.