Bilbao stop slide with Sevilla victory
Athletic Bilbao arrested their poor league form of recent weeks with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sevilla at San Mamés.
Despite their impressive form in the Europa League the Basques had not won in La Liga for six games, a 2-0 derby victory over Real Sociedad, and they were on the back foot almost immediately when Álvaro Negredo’s shot was cleared off the line by Fernando Amorebieta after Gorka Iraizoz had fumbled a Manu del Moral effort. At the other end Fernando Llorente brought a fine save out of Andrés Palop before the Spanish international rattled the crossbar when he got on the end of a Jon Aurtenetxe cross.
However, Athletic finally broke the deadlock two minutes after the interval, Llorente leaving Palop with no chance as he crashed home a header following a pinpoint cross from Mikel Susaeta. Negredo went close with a shot for Sevilla shortly afterwards then Susaeta passed up the opportunity to kill the game for Los Leones 15 minutes from time when he attempted to lob Palop, but the keeper was equal to the task.
As Sevilla pressed forward in the closing stages the hosts hit the woodwork again with three minutes left, this from time through Iker Muniain, but despite their efforts the Andalusians could not get the equaliser that would have seen them gatecrash the European spots.
Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa acknowledged that he was ‘relieved’ to have earned a victory against ‘an important rival like Sevilla’ and halt the recent bad run.
“I thought it was a performance that deserved a win,” said the Argentine. “After a succession of poor results this improves things. Although our opponents had opportunities we also had enough to have scored more than once. It was a game that deserved more goals than it had.”
Counterpart Michel was not very happy in the Press conference afterwards and felt his side had tossed away three vital points in their quest for a top-six place.
“The first half was equal but we could not get hold of the ball, which made us play the game Athletic wanted,” lamented the Sevilla boss. “At times we needed to ask a little more of ourselves, not wait for our opponents, and that is the way the game went.”
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