Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has declared he is pleased with getting the three points over a sturdy Athletic Bilbao side.
"We could not afford another blow as Madrid were close," the mercurial forward was quoted as saying by AS. "We won an important game. It is a short season now and every game is vital."
Messi also had kind words for Bilbao, who performed well in the match, forcing Barcelona to play at their best to gain the three points.
"They always complicate things," he said. "They are a great team, very organised when pressuring and always play well. These are three very important points."
The win once again puts Barcelona five points clear at the top of the table, heading into next weekend's visit to Mallorca, whilst Madrid face an equally daunting trip to A Coruña, to face Deportivo.