Spanish champions Barcelona battled out a tight win 1-0 at dogged Athletic Bilbao Sunday, to keep pace with Las Palmas and Real Madrid atop La Liga.
The only goal in Bilbao came from a powerful header from Ivan Rakitic in the 20th minute, on a cross from Arda Turan.
Barca wasted good chances to put the game to bed in the second half, while Bilbao – who have lost their two opening games – came close to equalizing on four occasions.
“We should have killed the match off within an hour,” Barca coach Luis Enrique said.
“Tonight we were not punished for our generosity, but on other occasions we might be … We need to be more clinical in our finishing.”
Meanwhile, Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde said: “We put up a good fight against really excellent opponents. The only thing that we were short of, to be honest, was an equalizer.”
Las Palmas – who earlier trounced Granada 5-1 – are the surprise leaders, on goal difference over Barca and Real, with all three on six points after two games.
Las Palmas stormed to the top Sunday with a 5-1 slaughter of Granada, making it two wins in two games for the unfancied islanders with nine goals scored and three conceded.
This puts them level on six points with Real Madrid but above the Whites on goal difference.
Nabil El Zhar was Las Palmas’ hero with a handsome brace. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Momo and Sergio Araujo scored their other goals.
Canary Islands side Las Palmas finished 11th last season, after Quique Setien had taken over as coach and pulled them out of the relegation zone.
“Maybe it’s impossible for us to continue with this kind of form, we’ll see,” a delighted Setien said.
“What is true is that we have made a fairly good start and are enjoying our matches. None of us expected a start quite like this, to be honest.”
Also Sunday, Alaves and Sporting Gijon played out a 0-0 draw of few chances. This left Sporting with four points and Alaves with two.
Sunday’s late game, between Villarreal and Sevilla, turned out to be another colourless 0-0, which left Sevilla on four and Villarreal on two points.