Barcelona lost its opening Spanish league match for the first time in a decade on Friday, falling at Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

By Associated Press
August 16, 2019

MADRID (AP) — Barcelona lost its opening Spanish league match for the first time in a decade on Friday, falling at Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

Veteran striker Aritz Aduriz scored the winner with a spectacular overhead kick a minute after coming off the bench in the 88th minute, handing Barcelona the loss after 10 straight wins to start the league.

Antoine Griezmann couldn’t make up for Lionel Messi’s absence, being held scoreless in his competitive debut after joining from rival Atlético Madrid in the offseason. It was a lackluster performance for the France forward whose only significant scoring chance came with a header in the final minutes.

Griezmann didn’t have Messi by his side because the Argentina star is nursing a right calf injury, and he couldn’t count on Luis Suárez either after the Uruguay striker had to be replaced in the first half because of an apparent muscle injury at San Mamés Stadium.

Philippe Coutinho couldn’t play because of a pending move to Bayern Munich on a loan, but youngster Frenkie de Jong made his competitive debut with the Catalan club after joining from Ajax.

Barcelona had most of the significant chances, being denied by the woodwork a few times, including with a shot by Suárez just before he had to be replaced.

The match seemed headed to a draw when the 38-year-old Aduriz, in his final season before retiring, came off the bench and scored with his amazing overhead kick from a right-flank cross by Ander Capa. The cross went over the Barcelona defenders and Aduriz reached high with his right foot to send the ball into the far corner.

Barcelona’s last setback in a Spanish league opener was in 2008, a 1-0 defeat at Numancia in Pep Guardiola’s coaching debut with the Catalan club.

Real Madrid, trying to rebound from one of its worst seasons in the last decade, opens at Celta Vigo on Saturday without new signing Eden Hazard because of a left thigh injury.

Atlético Madrid, runner-up the last two seasons, hosts Getafe on Sunday without Griezmann but with 19-year-old Portuguese sensation João Félix likely in the squad.

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