AN ineffectual Barcelona crashed to their first La Liga defeat of the season and failed to restore their three-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top when they were beaten 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Barca, without the injured Lionel Messi, turned in one of their worst performances of the campaign against Bilbao .
A miserable week for the Spanish champions, which included Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League loss at Ajax Amsterdam, went from bad to worse when Bilbao forward Iker Muniain stole in to net from close range in the 71st minute. Barca barely mustered a shot on target against the Basques, with Brazil forward Neymar particularly disappointing, and it was only the second time in 15 matches this season they have dropped points after the 0-0 draw at Osasuna in October.
Gerardo Martino's side are level with Atletico Madrid on 40 points following their club's 2-0 win at Elche on Saturday, while Real Madrid are three points further back in third.