Skip to main content

Missing Leo: Barcelona stumble to first league defeat

December 2, 2013 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
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
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT