Depay strike earns Barcelona La Liga draw

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Memphis Depay has earned Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao in La Liga, helping the Catalan side avoid a first defeat in the post-Lionel Messi era.

The Netherlands attacker's first goal since joining Barcelona showed why coach Ronald Koeman had insisted on his signing for months, despite the club's poor finances that kept them from retaining Messi.

Depay, who arrived as a free agent this summer, gained possession on a rare counter attack from Barcelona after Sergio Busquets recovered the ball.

Taking a pass from Sergi Roberto in his stride, Depay blasted a left-footed shot from a tight angle over goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala and into the top of the net in the 75th minute.

Bilbao had gone ahead in the 50th when defender Inigo Martinez headed home one of a slew of corners the hosts generated with their high-paced attack.

Frenkie de Jong hit the crossbar with an audacious chipped shot from the edge of the box moments before Depay struck the equaliser.

Depay came close to scoring the winner in the 86th, only for his shot to roll past the far post.

Barcelona had defender Eric Garcia in the final seconds of the match when he was shown a direct red card for fouling substitute Nico Williams with only goalkeeper Neto to beat.

Veteran Barca centre-half Gerard Pique was forced off injured in the 31st minute.

Elsewhere, it finished 0-0 between Espanyol and Europa Leage champions Villarreal, a second goalless draw for Unai Emery's side in the league.

Fernando Nino's late goal gave Real Mallorca a 1-0 win at Alaves, who had defender Ruben Duarte sent off in the second half.

Carlos Soler's late equaliser from the penalty spot grabbed Valencia a 1-1 draw at Granada, who had a stoppage-time goal from Angel Montoro ruled out for offside by VAR.

with PA

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