Madrid: Argentine Lionel Messi scored a vital 77th-minute winner as Barcelona laboured to a 2-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday to restore their five-point lead over Real Madrid at the Spanish first division summit.
Barcelona looked set to drop two more points after Andoni Iraola's penalty had cancelled out David Villa's third-minute opener, however, Messi popped up with his 25th league goal of the season to clinch the points at Camp Nou.
"We couldn't afford another slip-up as Real Madrid were close," said Messi. "We won a very important match. There isn't that much left of the league to go now and every game is vital."