After his free-scoring form for Liverpool last season many expected the 28-year-old to light up La Liga, but he has found goals harder to come by since his ??75million move to Spain.
It looked like being another frustrating day in a Barca shirt for Suarez when his header from two yards out was remarkably punched clear by Gorka Iraizoz, but in the 25th minute he finally had something to smile about.
The Uruguay striker combined well with Lionel Messi on the right and then swept home a first-time shot from the edge of the box that gave Iraizoz no chance and put the visitors 2-0 up.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Suarez, who had not scored in La Liga since the 3-1 victory over champions Atletico Madrid on January 11. “(But) I was very worried because I am very self-critical and I worry when I can’t help the team with everything I have to offer.”
On Iraizoz’s early save, the Barca frontman added on www.fcbarcelona.com: “That stop was amazing and I thought that that ball just didn’t want to go in.”
Messi, an Oscar de Marcos own goal, Neymar and Pedro were also on the scoresheet for Luis Enrique’s side at San Mames.
“We’re aware that in these kinds of matches the intensity should be maximum, because they press really well,” Suarez said. “So we knew we had to be very focused from the start.”
Hopes of an Athletic fightback were dented in the 75th minute when defender Xabier Etxeita was shown a straight red card for nasty high tackle, with studs up, on Suarez. The 28-year-old went down clutching his knee, before hobbling off. He tried to carry on before being withdrawn after 80 minutes.
The result lifted Luis Enrique’s side within a point of leaders Real Madrid, who were thrashed 4-0 at Atletico Madrid on Saturday afternoon.
But the Barca coach was not getting carried away with his side’s title prospects.
“During the season there will be better moments and worse moments for every team,” Enrique was quoted as saying at his post-match press conference.
“I think the most consistent team is going to win this competition. We’ll have to wait until the last weekend or the penultimate weekend – maybe it’ll be decided like last year on the last day of season.
“I’m not going to make strange predictions – there’s still a long way to go. There will be difficult moments along the way and we will have to overcome them.”