Barcelona beats Bilbao 3-1 in Spanish league

Madrid: Barcelona beat 10-man Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to move ahead of Real Madrid in the Spanish league standings.

Madrid was held to 0-0 at Levante, as Valencia went clear at the top of the standings with a 2-0 win at Sporting Gijon.

Barcelona`s David Villa played a pass from Andres Iniesta on to Seydou Keita, who placed the ball past Gorka Iraizoz in the 54th minute on Saturday.

In the 74th, Xavi Hernandez received the ball on the edge of the area and his shot deflected off a defender into the net.

Igor Gabilondo cut the deficit in the 90th for Bilbao, tapping in from close range, then Sergio Busquets shot into the top left corner for Barca`s third.

Fernando Amorebieta was unlucky to be sent off for a late sliding tackle on Iniesta in the 34th. Villa was sent off in the closing minutes for pushing Carlos Gurpegi in the face during an altercation.

"Things went a lot better for us after the red card (for Amorebieta)," Busquets said. "And with Madrid only managing a draw, that result favors us."

The win means Barcelona is second in the standings on 12 points after five games, one point behind Valencia. Madrid is third on 11 points.

While Madrid dominated possession, its attack lacked bite and failed to convert several chances against a well-organized Levante, which has conceded more goals than any other Liga team this season.

"In defense the team is very committed, we just need the same up front," said Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa. "The team is not doing badly, but we need a little bit more if we want to win at this kind of club."

In the absence of the injured Lionel Messi, Barcelona`s attack was an all-Spanish affair of Villa, Pedro Rodriguez and Iniesta. With Fernando Llorente and Javier Martinez among the Bilbao players, the game featured 10 members of Spain`s World Cup-winning squad.

Heavy rain at Bilbao`s San Mames did not suit Barcelona`s quick-passing game, though the champions quickly took control and put goalkeeper Iraizoz under pressure.

Adriano Correia shot high in the 10th after combining with Iniesta and Villa. Keita then controlled a Xavi through pass on the edge of the area although Iraizoz managed to reach his shot.

Moments later Villa struck the right post after being put clear by Iniesta.

Bilbao had a rare chance in the 31st, when Igor Martinez`s goalbound header rebounded off a defender over the bar.

Despite being a man down, Bilbao had one of its best chances of the game straight after halftime, when Mikel San Jose struck the post.

Bureau Report