La Liga: Barcelona edge Athletic Bilbao to go back top of the Table

Barcelona 1 - Bilbao 0

Barcelona returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao to send them top of the table.

Quique Setien’s side came to the match knowing that only a win would help the side keep up pace with arch-rivals Real Madrid.

It took a late strike from the Croatian to break a stubborn Bilbao side that had frustrated the Catalans all night.

Barcelona came into the match on the back of a goalless draw last Friday that saw Real Madrid leapfrog the Nou Camp side to the top of the table.

Off the pitch, the city of Barcelona was celebrating the traditional June 24, midsummer festival with rockets and bangers.

Croatian and Barcelona Midfielder
Substitute Ivan Rakitic scored the only goal of the night that gave Barcelona the win that they deeply needed

And as the skies shone with fireworks, inside the pitch, Messi and his teammates found it hard to break a resilient Bilbao side and save the season that was now reliant on Madrid dropping points.

But after 71 frustrating minutes, Rakitic saved the season.

An exasperated Lionel Messi tried to bundle his way through the massed ranks of the Athletic back line but there was no way past the third-meanest defence in the division.

The Argentine created the ball playing in the Croatian who showed great determination to get to the ball before a couple of defenders and shoot the ball into the left side of the net.

Barcelona edge Athletic Bilbao to go back top of the Table
Quique Setien’s side needed the win as they continue to chase a third consecutive La Liga title

Elsewhere, an own goal by Levante’s Bruno Gonzalez gave Diego Simeone’s side a 1-0 win over Levante at Estadi Olimpic Cano.

Valladolid played out a 1-1 draw with Getafe.

The results leave Barcelona top of the table with 68 points ahead of Real Madrid who has played a game less at 65 points.

Atletico Madrid is back to the third position, two points over fourth-placed Sevilla.