Athletic Bilbao 2-3 Real Betis: Pepe Mel’s men take all three points in a thriller

La Liga Week 4
Sunday September 18, 2011 (21.00 UK)

Benat 7, Nacho 13, Sevilla (pen) 45 – Marcos 38, Lopez (pen) 85
Mario sent off 75, Amorebieta sent off 90
San Mames, Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao suffered their second defeat in three games at the hands of a very good Real Betis side, with both teams having a man sent off in an entertaining clash at the San Mames.

The visitors were the better side in the opening stages and soon went ahead through a well-taken Benat free kick, who did not celebrate his goal out of respect for his former team. Six minutes later, Betis had doubled their lead after nice interplay between Nacho and Jonathan Pereira sent the left-back through to slot past a helpless Gorka Iraizoz. The Verdiblancos continued to push forward despite their lead and were given a lot of space by Bilbao, Roque Santa Cruz going close when his shot hit the post after Salva Sevilla played him through all too easily.

Bilbao got a goal back after a goalmouth scramble ended in Oscar de Marcos poking the ball over the line. However, they soon found themselves two down again after their goal scorer handled in the area and gave away a penalty, which Sevilla converted to give his side a deserved half-time lead.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men started the second half more positively and should have closed the gap when Ander Iturraspe found himself in a lot of space in the Betis box, but the midfielder could only blaze his shot over. Betis dropped deep to defend their lead and hit Bilbao on the counter using their quick forwards. Pereira was involved in the majority of Betis’ chances all evening and could have grabbed a goal for himself in the 59th minute, but his shot hit the post.

Iker Muniain was visibly frustrated by a good defensive performance from Betis, and vented his anger in the 75th minute after a scuffle with Mario. His reaction angered the Betis defender, who head-butted the young forward and was correctly sent off. Muniain can count himself lucky to only get a yellow for his needless reaction and retaliation.

Instantaneously, Bilbao made use of their extra man and Fernando Llorente went close with a header but Ruben Casto was equal to it. Bilbao patiently pressed and they were awarded a penalty when Javier Chica misjudged the flight of the ball in the box and handled. David Lopez converted the spot kick and set up a nervous end for Mel’s men. Pereira continued to work tirelessly and late on drew a cynical foul from Amorebieta that resulted in the Bilbao defender being sent off just before the final whistle.

Athletic Bilbao (4-2-3-1): Iraizoz; Iraola, J Martinez, Amorebieta, Marcos; Gurpegi (Torquero 81), Iturraspe (Lopez 64); Susaeta, Muniain, Gabilondo (I Martinez 67); Llorente
Unused subs: Galarreta, Ekiza, Aurtenexte, Fernandez

Real Betis (4-2-3-1): Casto; Chica, Mario, Dorado, Nacho; Iriney, Benat (Matilla 82); Pereira, Sevilla, Montero (Ezequiel 67), Santa Cruz (Amaya 77)
Unused subs: Pozuelo, Goitia, Molina, Juanma,

Did you know… This is the first game Athletic Bilbao have lost to Real Betis in La Liga since February 2007.

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