Thanks to a late goal given by substitute Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona secured vital 1-0 La Liga victory at home against Athletic Bilbao. The win ensures Barcelona’s La Liga title defense stays on track, helping Real Madrid leapfrog them to the top of the table following a 0-0 draw last week at Seville.

Athletic Bilbao had the best chances throughout the first half, with Yeray Alvarez going up high, and Inaki Williams firing off target after a quick counter-attack.

The hosts reinforced after the break, prompting the smart block to Antoine Griezmann from visiting keeper Unai Simon.

With time beginning to run out for Quique Setien, the former Real Betis boss brought on Rakitic, Riqui Puig, and Ansu Fati. Puig got much-needed midfield power, and Croatian international Rakitic found the 71-minute breakthrough target as Lionel Messi’s blocked shot fell to him in the net.

Barcelona almost made it 2-0 in added time, but at one point, Simon’s nice double save, on Arturo Vidal and Fati, held the score.

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