Barcelona close in on leaders Real Madrid with win over Athletic Bilbao


Barcelona saw off Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at the Nou Camp to move to within a point of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid.

Paco Alcacer was drafted into the starting XI in place of the rested Luis Suarez and opened the scoring on 18 minutes with his first league goal since a summer move from Valencia.

Bilbao, who were unbeaten in their previous five league games, failed to make the most of a dominant spell and then gifted Barcelona a second goal just before the break when Lionel Messi’s free-kick squirmed past goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

Defender Aleix Vidal added a third midway through the second half for Luis Enrique’s side, who have now played two matches more than Real Madrid.

The leaders are due to meet Celta Vigo on Sunday evening, but that fixture could yet be postponed for safety reasons after the bad weather which swept across northern Spain reportedly left the Balaidos stadium roof unsafe.

In Saturday’s early kick-off, Espanyol won 1-0 at Malaga with a goal from Argentine winger Pablo Piatti on 17 minutes.

Fernando Torres scored twice as Atletico Madrid ended a four-game winless run with a 2-0 victory over Leganes at Vicente Calderon.

Torres converted a rebound from Antoine Griezmann’s saved penalty to put the hosts ahead on 15 minutes.

The 32-year-old former Liverpool and Chelsea frontman made sure of all three points when he latched on to a pass from substitute Angel Correa through the centre and clipped the ball over goalkeeper Iago Herrerin from just inside the penalty area.

Saturday’s late game at the Mestalla saw Eibar run out 4-0 winners over 10-man Valencia to continue their push up towards the top six.

Sergi Enrich put the visitors in front on 28 minutes, before Valencia saw midfielder Carlos Soler sent off for violent conduct at a corner, with Adrian Gonzalez scoring from the resulting penalty in first-half stoppage-time.

Dani Garcia cracked in a volley just before the hour, with Enrich adding a second on 77 minutes to leave Los Che only six points above the relegation zone.

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