Barcelona edge Athletic Club to restore nine points lead over Real Madrid

BARCELONA: Barcelona claimed a fortunate 1-0 away win over Athletic Club on Sunday, thanks to Raphina’s stand-alone goal which powered them nine points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. 

Amid a dramatic week off the field, the former champions found a moment of cherish with a narrow 1-0 victory over hosts Athletic Club that propelled them nine points clear of arch-rivals Madrid despite their resounding 3-1 win over Espanyol.

The visitors started off strongly in a crucial clash which almost paid them in terms of an early lead but Ferran Torres’ strike passed just wide of the left post.

The hosts then looked to turn things around as Williams sneaked through a bunch of Barcelona defenders and managed to create the shooting pace only for his side-footed effort to be tipped wide by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Garcia then stole a header from the subsequent corner and it appeared to have dodged Ter Stegen all along, but the ball thud back off the crossbar.

With the first half coming to its closure, Raphinha buried the ball into the nets which, however, was initially deemed offside.

After a VAR check, however, it was determined that there was no offside amid the passage of play and thus the Brazilian’s goal was termed legal.

Barcelona’s star player Robert Lewandowski then had a vital chance to double his side’s lead in the 55th minute but the Polish striker botched it wide.

Both sides then made desperate efforts in the closing minutes of the game but failed. Athletic Club’s Gorka Guruzeta and Yuri Berchiche came close to firing the equaliser for their side but the visitors, somehow, managed to hang on.

In another La Liga fixture on Sunday, Valencia stunned eighth-placed Osasuna 1-0 to escape the relegation zone, just ahead of Getafe on goal difference.

Later, Mallorca held fourth-placed Real Sociedad for a 1-1 draw while Villarreal and Real Betis drew an alike outcome from their clash.

Furthermore, in another Sunday fixture, Sevilla recovered to claim a 2-1 victory over Almeria, who failed to escape the relegation zone, sitting in 19th place.

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