Barcelona slipped to a second consecutive defeat for the first time since April 2012 as they lost for the first time in the league this season 1-0 away to Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona had suffered their first defeat under coach Gerardo Martino against Ajax in midweek and Athletic appeared to learn from the Dutch champions' approach as, without the injured Lionel Messi, Barca struggled to impose themselves on the game yesterday.
Iker Muniain slotted home the only goal of the game from Markel Susaeta's cross 20 minutes from time as a third straight win moved the Basques into fourth.
The Catalans remain top of La Liga on goal difference only from Atletico Madrid with Real Madrid now just three points behind the leaders.
And the champions were left to complain about referee
uan Martinez Manuera's decision to only show Ander Iturraspe
a yellow card when he pulled back Neymar as the Brazilian bore down on goal with the score still at 0-0.
"They are a god team and it is difficult when we have chances and don't take them," said midfielder Sergio Busquets.
"And yes the referee didn't do his job well either because it is a red card and that made it more difficult.
"I think that would have changed the game. He was through
on the goalkeeper, I don't know where (Mikel) Balenziaga was
but it was a clear one-on-one and for me it is a red card."
On top of Messi's absence, Barca were also missing Victor
Valdes and Dani Alves and Busquets insisted they have to
concentrate on not losing any more ground in the two league
games that remain before the winter break with Messi and
Valdes due back in January.
"We shouldn't be alarmed. We need to keep going, win the
two games between now and the end of the year and learn from the mistakes we have made."
Neymar had Barcelona's best effort of the first-half with a curling effort that was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Gorka Iraizoz.
However, it was the hosts that had the better of the
chances before the break as Muniain fluffed his lines after
Andoni Iraola's cross was deflected perfectly into his path
before Gorka Toquero headed wide when