Barcelona owe 'large part' of Athletic Bilbao win to Ter Stegen - Busquets
Sergio Busquets said Barcelona's 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao belonged to Marc-Andre ter Stegen after the German international made a number of fine stops to keep the Basque side at bay.
Lionel Messi and Paulinho scored the goals for Barca, who extended their unbeaten record in all competitions to 14 games, but that didn't tell the whole story at San Mames.
Athletic had the better of the second half and came close to grabbing an equaliser on several occasions before Paulinho scored Barca's second goal in stoppage time.
Ter Stegen denied Aritz Aduriz in a one-on-one situation in the first half and made a stunning save from the striker's header in the second half after Raul Garcia had hit the bar.
The goalkeeper has now kept 10 clean sheets in 13 appearances since the Spanish Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid, enabling league leaders Barca to record their best ever start to a La Liga season.
"The truth is we struggled a lot, especially in the second-half," Busquets told Movistar after the game.
"They had chances to equalise, but with a counter-attack at the end we scored the second, which leaves us with this spectacular start.
"A large part of the win belongs to [Ter Stegen], he's at a great level. He was key in making sure we won the game.
"We're happy to have him with us and once again he was decisive in those big moments because the first [save] was at 0-0 and the second was at 1-0 in the final minutes, which would have led to a draw."
It was a strange night for Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who was seated in the visiting dugout at San Mames for the first time since leaving Athletic for Camp Nou in the summer.
"To be honest, it was a little stranger than I thought, before and during the game," Valverde said in his post-game news conference.
"It's been a different day, I don't know. Maybe because it's a new stadium and to have the fans willing on the other team. It was difficult.
"You're not used to the feeling that [the supporters] are pushing on the opposition, but that's how it is and you have to go through it.
"Now I can chat to all the familiar faces, which I didn't want to do before because that's not why we're here. But now, after the game, it's a bit more relaxed and we can catch up."
It may not have been as relaxed if Barca had failed to win, though, and Valverde admitted in other circumstances they may not have left the Basque Country with all three points.
"To win here you have to suffer, that's how it is," he added. "It's the law of San Mames. It's what they say and when I was here on the other side we made the opposition suffer until the very end.
"We were better in the first half, we dominated more and we created danger through the middle of the pitch. We hit the post twice and we could have had a bigger lead.
"In the second half, Athletic pressed us hard and made it difficult. We gave the ball away a number of times and, without creating too many clear-cut chances, Athletic are always a threat when the ball is bouncing around the area."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.