Barcelona had to sweat it out for a hard-fought 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao thanks to Ivan Rakitic‘s lone strike who came off the bench to fire them back on the top of La Liga table.Also Read - Ansu Fati Agrees New Contract With Barcelona

However, before Rakitic grabbed the spotlight, the eyes were firmly set on Lionel Messi who needed one goal for his career’s 700th goal.  However, he will have to wait for some more time but he did leave an impact with an assist that resulted in the goal in the 71st minute. Also Read - La Liga: Real Sociedad Go Top as Ansu Fati's Return Helps Barcelona to Vital Win

The assist was Messi’s 15th of the season. Also Read - Barcelona vs Valencia Live Streaming LaLiga Santander in India: When and Where to Watch BAR vs VAL Live Stream Football Match Online on Voot, JIO TV; TV Telecast in India

The victory follows a goalless draw with Sevilla last week that allowed rivals Real Madrid an opening to climb up to the top which they can reclaim should they beat Mallorca on Wednesday.

“We knew it was going to be complicated,” Barcelona manager Quique Setien said. “Also because of the situation, there is some anxiety because there’s less and less margin for error. Sometimes we didn’t play with that composure and that showed in the first half when were more inaccurate than usual. We gave some belief and confidence to Athletic.”

Rakitic admitted it was a tough game. “It’s a difficult period but we have to stick together,” Rakitic said. “It was an important goal, it was a tough game, it was hard for us to open the game up.”

Barcelona will be without Sergio Busquets for their clash against Celta Vigo as he picked up a yellow card and will be suspended for a match.

Bilbao remain static at the 10th spot.