By Andy Hall
FC Barcelona remain on top in Spain after being held 1-1 at Athletic Club de Bilbao while Valencia CF missed the chance to close the gap at home against Club Atlético de Madrid.
Barça coach Frank Rijkaard lost Juliano Belletti to injury just before the match, and was forced to hand Damiá Abella his Primera División debut. The 22 year old was straight into the thick of the action, supplying a looping centre that landed at the feet of Samuel Eto'o to slot past Dani Aranzubia with 12 minutes gone. But Athletic showed that they were not prepared to surrender and levelled three minutes later when Asier Del Horno’s throw-in was flicked on to Francisco Yeste, who scored with a stunning volley from a tight angle.
Gurpegi sent off
There was no let up from either side during the remainder of the game even if no goals were to follow. Deco and Xavi Hernández were both denied by the woodwork then Athletic lost Carlos Gurpegi to a second bookable offence with ten minutes to go.
Concern for Aimar
In the night's other game, Atlético's trip to Valencia was marred by an early injury to home favourite Pablo Aimar, who received a kick to the head in the first attack of the game. After extensive treatment, the Argentinian playmaker was taken to hospital. After a close first half, substitute Marco Di Vaio’s 64th-minute shot was parried into the path of Miguel Angulo to tap over the line. Soon afterwards, Atlético's Veljko Paunovic was dismissed for a second yellow card but Fernando Torres still managed to smash in an equaliser on 78 minutes.
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|Last updated: 31/01/2012 10:15 CET|
Stuani 62 (penalty)
|Real Sociedad||0-1||Real Madrid|
|Venue: San Sebastian|
Diego Castro 23