Barcelona: Aritz Aduriz nodded the first goal and set up another as Athletic Bilbao beat Espanyol 3-1 to climb to ninth in La Liga on Friday.
Bilbao were on top but needed some luck to take the lead in the 29th minute when Aduriz`s header deflected off Christian Stuani and went past stranded keeper Kiko Casilla.
The visitors threatened to rally through Lucas Vazquez who was well placed in the area but shot tamely at Gorka Iraizoz.
It represented a rare foray from Espanyol and it was Bilbao, with raids down the wings, who looked more likely to score again.
The second goal came when striker Aduriz made a fine run from midfield and slipped the ball for Borja Viguera to flick it beyond Casilla a minute before halftime.
Bilbao eased off after the restart and fortune was once more against Espanyol after 67 minutes when Salva Sevilla, having slipped the ball through Oscar de Marcos` legs, saw a curling effort hit the post. At the other end Ander Iturraspe struck a stunning drive from 30 metres to make it 3-0 after 78 minutes before Victor Sanchez netted a consolation goal for 12th-placed Espanyol with six minutes to go.
"I am very happy as we picked up three big points against a tough rival," Viguera told reporters. "We got the first goal and then the second gave us more confidence to go on and win the match.
"We now need to continue this run we are on and keep improving."
Bilbao began the season in mediocre fashion but are slowly starting to find their form.
They have tightened up in defence and have now gone five La Liga games without defeat. But Bilbao, with one point from four matches, have already failed to qualify for the Champions League last 16.
On Saturday, La Liga leaders Real Madrid travel to Eibar and second-placed Barcelona host Sevilla.