Marcelo Bielsa praised Athletic Bilbao’s spirit after a 2-2 draw with Barcelona prevented the Catalans from winning La Liga this weekend.
Two goals in three minutes from Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez had put Barca on course for a win that could have wrapped up the title, coupled with a defeat for Real Madrid at local rivals Atletico.
However, Ander Herrera struck in the last minute, and Jose Mourinho’s side went on to win the derby, meaning Barcelona’s title party will have wait for at least another week.
Bielsa was happy to see “defensive” tactics pay off for his team as they soaked up as much pressure from Tito Vilanova’s as they could before striking late on with a counter-attack.
“I am very pleased with how this tie went,” the former Chile coach said.
“The efforts of our players deserved more than dignified defeat.
“The only way we can close the gap on a team like Barcelona is by playing defensively and preserving our energy to attack.
“Their goals in such quick succession pre-supposed our decline, but we reformed our balance, got close to their area and eventually found the answer. We’ve strengthened our concept as a team.”