Raphinha hands win to Barca over Athletic

Sports Desk, Mar 12 (EFE).- Raphinha was the lone goal scorer in Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at San Mames Stadium on Sunday to reestablish their nine-point cushion over No. 2 Real Madrid on the La Liga table after the capital squad beat Espanyol on Saturday.

It was Barca’s first match after having corruption charges leveled at the squad by Spanish prosecutors, but seemingly this did not affect the performance or morale of Xavi Hernandez’s men.

Raphinha found the twine for the squad after Sergio Busquets sent him a great pass during first-half extra time and, although initially offside was called on the play, a VAR check found that the goal counted.

Just back from the injury list, the Catalan’s top goalmaker, Robert Lewandowski, missed on two nice chances.

Athletic just could not get through the tough Catalan defense, although netminder Marc-Andre ter Stegen was busy fending off their tries after the break as they dominated play, with a shot by Alex Berenguer hit the post and Ter Stegen grabbed one from Muniain.

Just a minute before regulation time expired in the second half, Iñaki Williams was under the impression he had tied things up for Athletic Bilbao, but another VAR check detected a handball by Iker Muniain as the play developed.

Meanwhile, No. 4 Real Sociedad couldn’t eke out more than a 1-1 result against Mallorca after Carlos Fernandez put them ahead early on but Lee Kang-in evened things up for the duration just after play resumed after the intermission.

Late in the match, Mallorca’s Mikel Merino was red-carded for a late foul on Abdon Prats and the team had to finish out the contest shorthanded.

Sociedad have garnered just one win in their last nine outings in all competitions, but remain in the No. 4 spot – while Mallorca is in 10th – after the contest.

Neither No. 5 Real Betis and No. 6 Villarreal could gain any ground against one another on Sunday, as they battled to a 1-1 result at Estadio de la Ceramica with Borja Iglesias hitting for Betis early on but Yeremy Pino levelling.

And Sevilla clawed their way out of the relegation zone on a nice comeback effort to down Almeria 2-1 at home, with Sergio Akieme getting the visitors on the board first but Lucas Ocampos sending one into the net from the penalty spot and Erik Lamela landing the gamewinner in the 73rd minute.

With the win, Sevilla jumped to 13, but Getafe slipped down into 18th.

EFE –/bp

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