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Europa League round of 16 draw

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Pep takes pride in battling Barca

Pep Guardiola has expressed his pride after Barcelona claimed a late point against a "beast" of an Athletic Bilbao side.

• Barca salvage a point

At a rain soaked San Mames, Barcelona had to rely on an injury-time goal from Lionel Messi as they salvaged a 2-2 draw against an impressive Bilbao team.

The result leaves Barca three points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who were 7-1 victors at the weekend, but Guardiola was keen to highlight the positives of the display.

He told reporters after the game in quotes carried by the club's official website: "How can I not be happy with the spectacular show that the 22 players put on for us? Everyone enjoyed this marvellous game thanks to these very good players. This was an ode to football.

"There are few days where I can be prouder of my players. They completely understood the requirements of the match ... It means a lot to come here and have the opposing team only reach your area three times."

Guardiola made a point of congratulating his Athletic counterpart Marcelo Bielsa at the final whistle. He said: "I told him that (his players) are beasts. I had never played against a team so intense and aggressive."

Argentine coach Bielsa added: "It wouldn't have been fair for us to win. The draw corresponds with what I saw on the pitch."

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