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Bilbao exploit Barca’s frailties

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SummaryBarca turned in one of the worst performances of the season without talisman Messi.

AN ineffectual Barcelona crashed to their first La Liga defeat of the season and failed to restore their three-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top when they were beaten 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Barca, without the injured Lionel Messi, turned in one of their worst performances of the campaign against Bilbao .

A miserable week for the Spanish champions, which included Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League loss at Ajax Amsterdam, went from bad to worse when Bilbao forward Iker Muniain stole in to net from close range in the 71st minute. Barca barely mustered a shot on target against the Basques, with Brazil forward Neymar particularly disappointing, and it was only the second time in 15 matches this season they have dropped points after the 0-0 draw at Osasuna in October.

Gerardo Martino's side are level with Atletico Madrid on 40 points following their club's 2-0 win at Elche on Saturday, while Real Madrid are three points further back in third.

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