Late goal from Lionel Messi seals Barcelona win over Athletic Bilbao

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Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 by

• Barça five points clear of José Mourinho's Real Madrid
• Víctor Valdés may miss return against Arsenal

Late goal from Lionel Messi seals Barcelona win over Athletic Bilbao
Barcelona's Lionel Messi and David Villa celebrate after Messi scored the winning goal against Athletic Bilbao.

Lionel Messi rescued a nervy Barcelona with a late goal to earn a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao in a thrilling La Liga match.

The World Player of the Year scored the winner in the 77th minute as Barça desperately poured forward after Andoni Iraola had cancelled out David Villa's early opener with a 49th-minute penalty.

Barça moved on to 65 points from 24 matches, with Real Madrid five points back in second after José Mourinho's side eased to a 2-0 victory over Levante on Saturday.

The Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés missed the match against Athletic Bilbao with a knee injury, his first league absence this season. The Spain international, a member of their World Cup-winning squad, has had the problem since Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. The club gave no indication how long the 29-year-old might be out of action but he could be doubtful for the second leg at home to Arsenal on 8 March.

In other games at the weekend fourth-placed Villarreal's faltering form continued when they were held 1-1 at home by the bottom side, Málaga, and Osasuna's new coach, José Luis Mendilibar, led his team to a stunning 4-0 win over sixth-placed Espanyol.

The goal of the day came from the Deportivo La Coruña goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia, who headed a last-ditch equaliser for a 1-1 draw at Almería.

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