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Deportivo La Coruña
March 31, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
• Attendance: 88027
L. Messi 58'
Thanks a lot for joining me, ladies and gentlemen. Stay tuned to Goal.com for all the reaction to this encounter...
And that's full time. Barcelona go marching on, with Goals from Messi and Iniesta giving the champions victory. The gap at the top of La Liga is back down to six points, and keep up the pressure on Real Madrid. Barca weren't at their eye-catching best, but a proficient performance against a good team has given them three points.
90' + 1'
Xavi plays an incredible ball through the Bilbao defence to Pedro, who shoots, but Iraizoz is there once more to palm another effort away.
OFF THE BAR!!! Iraizoz makes a fatal error by giving the ball straight to Barca. Messi dodges a volley of challenges, and squeezes the ball out to Keita, who rattles the crossbar with a left-footed effort.
Barcelona seem content to hold what they have now, and are maintaining possession of the ball in the centre of the park. It's been an efficient from the champions.
So, Bilbao are saving their best chances for the end of the match. If they had displayed this sort of form at the beginning of the match, we might have had a more interesting contest!
Muniain picks out Susaeta brilliantly, but the 24-year-old's goal-bound shot strikes Pique. Susaeta frantically appeals for a penalty, but the ball appeared to hit Pique on the side, not the arm.
OFF THE LINE!!! De Marcos plays a wonderfully-weighted ball into Muniain's path, but with Valdes beaten, Pique gets across and brilliantly hooks it off the line.
Gerard Pique, of all people, finds some space down the left, but with Messi unmarked in the middle, the 25-year-old's cross is wildly over-hit.
And Iniesta is being withdrawn in favour of Xavi. Having got the ball rolling for Barca tonight, the 27-year-old receives a standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd.
Barcelona have a free-kick in a threatening area after Susaeta hauled down Thiago.
Messi darts inside from the right, and has a shot, but Iraizoz is comfortably behind it. The Argentine's effort really lacked the necessary power to trouble a 'keeper of Iraizoz's quality.
So, Barcelona are looking comfortable in their lead. But you have to give credit to Iraizoz, he's had a great game between the posts for Bilbao.
PIQUE!!!! Messi swings in the corner straight onto Pique's head, but he mistimes his effort and it ends up being completely harmless. He should have buried that.
ANOTHER SAVE!!! Busquets declines the invitation to shoot and squares it to Iniesta. Barca's first goalscorer has a dig, the ball takes a massive deflection off Messi, but a sprawling Iraizoz tips it over the bar.
Yellow Card Busquets
Oh dear. Barcelona win the ball back and move into the box, but as the ball comes to Thiago, the 20-year-old slips, when he had a real opportunity to score. Lovely approach play by Barca, there.
So, big 25 minutes coming up in the Liga title race. Bilbao have shown a bit more stability on the ball since the second goal - can they make it count and find a route back into the match?
And Guardiola has made his first change of the evening, with Pedro replacing Tello. He needs to show some good form, with his Euro 2012 spot under threat...
And Bielsa wastes no time in bringing on Fernando Llorente. Can the Spain forward make the difference?
Penalty Goal Messi
GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lionel Messi steps up, and makes no mistake from the spot, despite a half-hearted Iraizoz dive in the right direction. Barcelona have a two-goal cushion!
Yellow Card Javi Martínez
PENALTY!!! Tello is preparing to pull the trigger, but is bundled over Javi Martinez, who picks up a booking for his troubles!
Yellow Card Iturraspe
Iturraspe quickly joins Toquero in the book after bundling over Iniesta. That's not his first challenge of the Barcelona midfielder tonight...
GREAT SAVE!! Messi fails to control a high ball properly, but recovers to play in Tello, who charges in from the left, but Iraizoz gets his body in front of the ball, again.
Lionel Messi puts the ball in the back of the net after taking possession of a loose ball, but his effort is ruled out for offside. He's adamant that the ball last touched a Basque player, however.
Yellow Card Toquero
And Toquero has his name taken by the referee after a clumsy tackle on Busquets in the centre of the park.
Pique plays it forward to Thiago, and charges onwards to try and latch on to the 20-year-old return ball. However, it's under-hit, and the defender can't quite reach it in time.
Dani Alves robs the ball just outside the Bilbao area and knocks it square to Messi. The Argentine wastes no time in shooting, but Javi Martinez gets across and blocks the shot. Great defending.
GREAT CHANCE!!! Susaeta swings in a great free kick that Toquero meets, but the Bilbao forward is unable to get a telling touch on it, when he had a great chance to equalise. Barca scramble it away in the ensuing melee.
Perez and Ibai Gomez have been replaced at half-time by Muniain and Herrera as the visitors try and get back in this match.
And we're back! Just 45 minutes for Bilbao to try and get back in this match, and put a dent in Barcelona's title aspirations...
Incidentally, the widow of Cesar Rodriguez, whose goal-scoring record Lionel Messi recently surpassed, is at Camp Nou tonight to witness the ceremony paying tribute to the Argentine.
And that's half-time! Barcelona have bossed proceedings here, but only lead 1-0, thanks to Iniesta's 40th minute strike. The hosts could have had more, however, with Pique squandering the most notable of their other chances. Bilbao have defended quite well, but still find themselves behind at the break. It can't be pleasant for them to play twice in three days...
Alexis plays a lovely ball from the right towards the edge of the Bilbao box. Ekiza gets in front of Messi to prevent the Argentine from latching onto it, however. Great pass from the Chilean, though!
MESSI!!! The Argentine goes on a trademark run, before unleashing a powerful shot goal-wards. Iraizoz, however, gets down well to beat the shot away.
GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Alexis Sanchez robs an opponent and feeds Messi, who taps it into Iniesta's path. The Spaniard dodges a tackle, before blasting it into the roof of the net with his right-foot. No chance for Iraizoz.
Despite being subjected to a number of challenges, Thiago manages to slip the ball to Tello, whose cross is disappointing - it was behind all of his team-mates.
Pique is livid after his adjudged to have nudged Iturraspe in the Bilbao box. However, it looked to be a good decision from the officials.
More lovely passing from Barcelona now. Alexis and Adriano combine well, but when the Chilean attempts to feed Thiago, his through ball is over-hit.
Alves tries to thread a through ball in towards the front line, but Aurtenetxe intercepts the pass and clears it with relative ease.
WHAT A CHALLENGE!!! Messi looks to be in, and is preparing to apply the finish when Borja Ekiza appears from nowhere to win the ball. Fantastic bit of defending.
So close to a horrible defensive mix up. Iraizoz and Alexis both go for the same loose ball, but Javi Martinez comes from nowhere to put it out of play. The visitors survive, but that could have gone horribly wrong.
the hosts are cranking up the pressure again. Iniesta picks his spot and blasts the ball goal-wards with his left-foot, but Iraizoz gets a fingertip to it to maintain his clean sheet. They're pressing for the opener, though...
OFF THE LINE!!!! A probing cross from Messi finds Pique at the far post. The Barca defender slides in and looks to have scored, but Aurtenetxe is there on the line knock it clear. Great bit of defending!
Barceona threaten with a free-kick. Messi is harried in the middle of the Bilbao half, and takes the resulting set piece quickly forcing a great reaction save from Iraizoz..
Thiago dribbles across the box and tries to prod it into Iniesta's path, but the Barcelona midfielder can't quite manage to get the ball under control and it squirms away from him. That would have been a great chance, had he managed to control it....
A rather heavy-handed challenge from Iturraspe on Iniesta attracts the boos of the Camp Nou faithful. The referee waves play on, and Iturraspe is, perhaps, lucky to get away without a booking.
Susaeta puts in a great delivery from the corner, but amid all the push and shove in the box, the referee blows up for a foul.
The relentless Barcelona assault on Iraizoz's goal seems to have subsided in the last few minutes. Bielsa's side are seeing much more of the ball, and win a corner after Toquero's cross cannons behind off Pique.
A rare sight of goal for the visitors. Ibai Gomez chips a clever ball to Toquero, whose looping header goes over when he could have done better. He was ruled offside, but some great build up play, nonetheless.
And Barcelona have another corner, with Aurtenetxe conceding it.
Bilbao can barely buy possession here. Barcelona are continuing to probe for an opener, but the Bilbao back line are standing firm. The crowd draw a collective breath as Messi shoots from the edge of the area, but his shot is charged down.
A chipped ball down the left almost plays in Tello, but Iraizoz comes out of his goal and shepherds the ball out of play. It's been all Barca since the early shaky moment from Valdes.
Heavy boos are raining down from the Camp Nou crowd as Adriano darts into the Bilbao half, and goes down about 30 yards from goal. The home faithful are adamant that their side deserves a free-kick, but the referee refuses to sound his whistle.
OFFSIDE!!!!! A WONDERFUL Messi chip plays in Alves, who pokes the ball through to Thiago. The 20-year-old puts it in the back of the net, but is rightly called offside. Incredible stuff from Messi!
SO CLOSE!!!! Alves forces a great save from Iraizoz with a shot from distance, but Barcelona recover the ball and work it to Pique, whose shot goes inches wide! He really could have done better with that opportunity.
First corner of the game goes to Barcelona. Alexis Sanchez turns wonderfully on the edge of the box and feeds Messi, who is closes down by Javi Martinez, who is all too happy to concede a corner.
Victor Valdes sees the ball for the first time tonight. Some quick feet from Ibai fool Pique, and the 22-year-old sends in a low cross. The Barcelona 'keeper spills the ball, but soon seizes it with De Marcos looming. Positive start from the guests!
Dani Alves makes a charge into the the Bilbao half, but is soon stopped in his tracks by a couple of strong, but fair tackles.
And we're off! Bilbao get the same started, and there's a nervous moment for Iraizoz early on, as he miss-controls a back-pass, only to recover the ball with a Blaugrana shirt looming...
The teams are out, and the action is just moments away!
We're just minutes away from kick-off. Stay tuned for all the action from Camp Nou. Few are more capable of producing a thriller than these two sides!
So, Real Madrid have just won 5-1 away at Osasuna, so three points are a must here for Barcelona. Can Bilbao take points off the Catalans once more? My name is Enis Koylu, and you can send your thoughts and predictions to me via Twitter (@EnisKoylu). It promises to be quite a match...
Bilbao have also elected to change things around, having played against Schalke a mere 48 hours ago: Iraizoz; Iraola, Javi Martinez, Ekiza, Aurtenetxe; Iturraspe, De Marcos, Inigo Perez; Ibai, Susaeta, Toquero
The teams are in for this clash. Barcelona will line up with: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Tello
Good evening! Welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao. The game between the two sides in the Basque region was an extraordinary game, with Guardiola's side snatching a late point on a rain-sodden San Mames pitch through Lionel Messi. Let's hope tonight provides an equally thrilling encounter.
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