Lionel Messi saved Barcelona's blushes with an injury-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw away at Athletic Bilbao today as Real Madrid stretched their lead at the top of La Liga with a 7-1 thrashing of Osasuna.
In the rain-hit Basque country, Ander Herrera opened the scoring for Athletic Bilbao only for Cesc Fabregas to pull Barca level on 24 minutes. When Barça defender Gerard Pique put the ball into his own net with ten minutes remaining, Athletic looked all set to hand the European champions their first league defeat of the season.
In a frantic finish to the match, however, Messi made the most of a defensive mistake to pounce on a loose ball and score his first goal away from the Nou Camp this season.
Earlier, Real Madrid had a much easier task when Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick was the centre piece of a 7-1 hammering of helpless Osasuna, who have already been beaten 8-0 by Barcelona in mid-September.
The victory made it ten straight wins for Jose Mourinho's side, with Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe and two from substitute Karim Benzema adding to Ronaldo's hat-trick that put him level on 13 league goals with Messi. Osasuna had levelled through Ibrahima Balde early in the match but had Eneko Satrustegui was sent off for a second yellow card in the 54th minute with the score already at 5-1.
For Mourinho, meanwhile, their winning run is fully deserved. "We have deserved these ten victories. We have not got them through luck, we have had to suffer for them like we did in Anoeta (Real Sociedad's stadium), but we've played either good or very good in all of them," Mourinho said.
In day's other games, Rayo Vallecano beat Real Sociedad 4-0, the losers playing for 79 minutes with ten men after Inigo Martinez received a red card. They are now seven games without a win and as a result have dropped into the relegation zone.
Real Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon shared four goals in a bottom of the table clash, while two other games ended in scoreless draws on Sunday. Neither Racing Santander and Granada or Espanyol and Villarreal could find a goal between them.
In the late kick-off, Diego Castro converted an 82nd-minute penalty to seal Getafe a 3-2 victory over Atletico Madrid, lifting them from the bottom of the table up to 14th place. The eventful derby match saw Getafe play with ten men for 73 minutes after an early red card for Alberto Lopo, but Atletico were always chasing a game they never looked capable of controlling.
On Saturday, Valencia beat city rivals Levante 2-0 away from home to leapfrog their neighbours into third place. A Javi Venta own-goal and a Tino Costa free-kick were enough for Valencia to edge a typically bruising derby match.