Barca edges Bilbao to stay in title hunt
Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Barcelona fell behind to Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou on Sunday but stormed back to get 2-1 win and keep its title hopes alive.
The pressure was on Barcelona after Atletico Madrid went seven points clear of the Catalans with a 2-0 win over Elche on Friday, but the reigning champions cut the deficit back down to four points with a vital win on home soil.
Lionel Messi thought he had given Barcelona the lead in the 19th minute when he turned in a cross from Andres Iniesta, but the goal was disallowed due to the Argentine striker's offside position in the build-up.
Bilbao then came within inches of opening the scoring at the half-hour mark when Aritz Aduriz sent a bicycle kick off the post. The ball came back into play and was met by a shot from Markel Susaeta, but Jose Pinto managed to parry the effort to safety.
Two minutes later, it was Barcelona's turn to hit the woodwork as Alexis Sanchez got on the end of Pedro's low cross, but the Chilean attacker sent his close-range shot off the crossbar.
Bilbao finally broke the deadlock four minutes into the second period. Aduriz capitalized on a giveaway from Marc Bartra before cooly slotting a shot past Pinto at the far post.
But the match eventually turned in Barcelona's favor as the hosts netted two goals in as many minutes to secure the win.
Pedro leveled the score in the 71st minute by redirecting a pass from Sanchez into the back of the net.
Messi then netted the go-ahead goal shortly after, slamming home a free kick from the edge of the penalty area to seal the victory and lift Barcelona to 81 points.
Bilbao remains in fourth place on 62 points, but its lead over fifth-place Sevilla dwindles to three points following its 4-0 home win over Granada on Sunday.
An own goal from Mainz in the 14th minute had given Sevilla a fortuitous lead, but the second half belonged to the hosts as goals from Kevin Gameiro, Stephane M'Bia and Vitolo put the match out of reach for Granada.
Elsewhere in Sunday's La Liga action, Nolito produced a brace in Celta Vigo's 4-2 win at Almeria while Rayo Vallecano claimed a 3-1 home win over Real Betis.
04/20 16:55:43 ET