Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Final score 2-2, Athletic grabs a point off the league leaders

Stuart Franklin

Ander Herrera's 90th minute goal helped Athletic Bilbao claim a draw against Barcelona in the final match between the two sides in the San Mamés.

Lionel Messi sparked Barcelona to a second half comeback but it was Athletic Bilbao who had the last laugh thanks to a 90th minute equalizer from Ander Herrera. Athletic had the lead at half-time but Messi helped push Barca ahead with a goal and an assist in the second half.

More from our team blogs: FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes

Both sides had chances to take an early lead but neither could convert. Athletic's Ander Herrera whipped a low ball across the Barcelona box, catching the defense sleeping, to an unmarked Aritz Aduriz who just missed putting the ball in the empty net with a sliding effort. Ten minutes later, Alexis came whisker close for Barcelona sending an off balanced show pinging of the post.

In the 28th minute Herrera again made a nuisance of himself down the left taking advantage of a slip by Gerard Piqué and sending a cross/shot to the far post where Markel Susaeta had slipped behind Jordi Alba. Susaeta did not miss his chance and poked the ball into the net, giving Athletic a 1-0 lead.

Aduriz missed his second sitter of the game in the 44th minute, heading a beautiful cross from Oscar de Marcos just over the cross bar. The only thing worse than the finishing from Adruiz was the marking by Piqué and Abidal who allowed the Athletic a tremendous amount of space right in front of Victor Valdés.

Another close call for Athletic in the 56th minute after Adriano's foul gave the home side a free kick just on the edge of the Barca area. Susaeta's free kick took a slight deflection off the wall and hit off the crossbar and back out in front of the goal at the far post. Defender Mikel San Jose was well placed and his follow up header went just wide, appearing to hit off the post.

At that point Tito Vilanova had seen enough and replaced Xavi Hernandez with Lionel Messi. As you might expect, Barcelona immediately looked like a new side. Les than two minutes after entering the match Messi rocketed through the midfield and sent the ball right to Pedro whose shot was stonewalled by Gorka Iraizoz.

Vilanova's decision paid off in the 67th minute as Messi did a magical dance through three Athletic defenders, weaving his way into the area before beating Iraizoz with a low rolling shot inside the post. Two minutes later Barca surged into the lead when Dani Alves lofted a cross to Messi who headed the ball down to Alexis for a short range strike past the goalkeeper.

Athletic kept fighting at were rewarded in the 90th minute with the equalizing goal. De Marcos' initial cross was headed poorly by Adriano right to Herrera who hammered a low shot just past the sprawling Valdés.

Barcelona will not be able to clinch the title no matter what happens with Real Madrid and will have to wait until next week at home against Real Betis. Ths was the final meeting between the two sides at the San Mamés as Athletic will be moving across the street into their new stadium next season.

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