Skip to main content

Missing Leo: Barcelona stumble to first league defeat

updated 4:46 AM EST, Mon December 2, 2013
Iker Muniain celebrates his 70th minute winner for Athletic Bilbao against Barcelona in the San Mames.
Iker Muniain celebrates his 70th minute winner for Athletic Bilbao against Barcelona in the San Mames.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona lose first La Liga game of the season
  • Beaten 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao at San Mames
  • Goal by Iker Muniain in second half gives Bilbao famous victory
  • Juventus stay top in Italy with 1-0 win over Udinese

(CNN) -- Without talisman Lionel Messi, Barcelona slipped to their second defeat in a week as a 1-0 reverse at Athletic Bilbao Sunday blew the Spanish title race wide open.

Already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages, their 2-1 midweek loss to Ajax Amsterdam could be forgiven, but Iker Muniain's 70th minute winner for Athletic has far greater significance.

It was Barca's first league reverse of the season and left them level on points with Atletico Madrid with arch-rivals Real Madrid snapping at their heels a further three points adrift.

Lionel Messi's messy tax scandal
Lionel Messi breaks goal scoring record

Athletic, who are unbeaten at their new San Mames stadium, have moved up into the fourth Champions League spot with the victory.

Read: Is Messi at risk of burning out?

Muniain might have put them ahead in the first half but he wasted a great chance from close range, while Barcelona offered little in reply.

Brazil's Neymar was kept quiet but just after half time he burst through only to be pulled back by home midfielder Ander Iturraspe, who was lucky to escape with a yellow card.

But the men from the Basque country remained a constant threat and Markel Susaeta crossed for Muniain to slide home his decisive goal.

A second should have followed but Gaizka Toquero headed a cross straight at Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto, who made a reaction save.

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino flung on Sergi Roberto and Pedro as late substitutes, but to no avail.

Messi was confined to the sidelines for the second time this season last month with a hamstring injury which is set to keep him out of action until January, missing at least two more La Liga games.

Read: Bale fires first Real Madrid hat-trick

Meanwhile in Italy, champions Juventus went three points clear of early pace setters Roma with a 1-0 win over Udinese Sunday.

It took an injury-time header from Spain striker Fernando Llorente to grab the three vital points as he headed Stephan Lichsteiner's shot past Zeljko Brkic.

Juve had plenty of chances to wrap up their 12th win of the season and sixth in a row, but were frustrated by dogged defense and poor finishing until the last gasp strike.

Earlier, Roma were held to their fourth draw in a row, 1-1 away at Atalanta.

Napoli, who are in third, nine points adrift, travel to Lazio Monday.

Fourth placed Inter Milan failed to make up ground as they were held 1-1 at home to Sampdoria.

Renan scored a late leveler for Sampdoria after Fredy Guarin had given Inter an 18th minute lead at the San Siro.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
updated 11:19 AM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
updated 3:24 PM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
updated 9:18 AM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
updated 12:03 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
updated 1:15 PM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
updated 5:31 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT