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Late Stunner Sinks Woeful Barca In LaLiga Opener

LaLiga

Result: Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Barcelona

Date: 16 August 2019

Venue: San Mames

FC Barcelona, who were without Lionel Messi, got their LaLiga campaign off to a poor start after suffering defeat away to Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.
 
Ernesto Valverde gave off-season signings Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann their official debuts, while talisman Messi missed out due to injury.
 
The Basque outfit almost took an early lead in the seventh minute after Inaki Williams pounced on a mistake by Ousmane Dembele in a dangerous area and unleashed a goal-bound strike that was parried wide by shot-stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
 
After a quiet start to the game, Luis Suarez almost broke the deadlock for Barça in the 31st minute after Unai Lopez played a horrible back pass that was intercepted by the Uruguayan striker, who saw his snap-shot crash against the bottom post.
 
Unfortunately for the Uruguayan that was to be his final involvement as picked up a knokc and he was eventually replaced by Rafinha. The substitute had an instant impact as he got close to breaking the deadlock for the visitors two minutes before the break, after forcing goalkeeper Unai Simon into a finger-tip save.
 
Barça had an improved first phase in second stanza after Ivan Rakitic came on for Alena just after the break but most of their chances came from set-plays which played straight to the arms of Simon and his defence.
 
With 20 minutes to go, Rakitic almost put Barcelona ahead after a loose ball inside the box fell on his path, but the Crotian’s powerful strike sailed slightly over the bar.
 
Chances continued to fall for the visitors, as Griezmann went close in the last six minutes with a header that sailed agonisingly wide of the upright as the frustration continued for the champions.
 
However, Barca were put out of their misery when Aritz Aduriz finally broke the deadlock for Bilbao in the last minute, with an acrobatic volley that left ter Stegen with no chance to inflict defeat on the defending champions.
 

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