First Division - Day 10

Athletic Bilbao 2 - Celta 1

Bilbao: Lafuente; Lacruz, Alkorta, Larrazábal (Del Horno 46'), Larrainzar; Urrutia, Felipe; Joseba Etxeberria (Tiko 85'), Julen Guerrero (Yeste 91'), Javi González; Urzaiz. 4-2-3-1.
Celta: Pinto; Velasco (Coira 18'), Cáceres, Yago, Juanfran (Jesuli 75'); Karpin, Giovanella; Edu, McCarthy (Vagner 46'), Tomás; Catanha. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Bilbao: Lacruz, Javi González for Oscar Vales, Del Horno / Celta: Juanfran, McCarthy, Tomás for Coira, Mostovoi, Gustavo López.

1-0. 36. Joseba Etxeberria. Header after Urzaiz nodded back Guerrero's free kick.
1-1. 38. Tomás. Turned and shot after cross from Catanha on right.
2-1. 50. Lacruz. Headed goal after corner from Julen Guerrero.

Athletic Bilbao produced their best form of the season to defeat Celta by a one goal margin that could have been much more had they taken all their chances. Both sides were plagued by injuries and absences, and with Bilbao missing seven of their first team squad, B team youngster David Asensio was on the subs bench. Txetxu Rojo did at least have a fully fit Joseba Etxeberria for once though, and they lined up with all three of their full Spanish internationals in the team. Celta's injury problems are in defence, where they have four long-term injuries, and their problems were to increase in this game as Velasco limped off early in the first half. Juanfran at least was back, but in midfield Mostovoi was suspended and Gustavo López was playing for his country, so Tomás got a rare start and Benni McCarthy played behind Catanha in an attacking midfield role.

Celta's manager Víctor Fernández has never lead a team to victory in the San Mames stadium, and the way Bilbao started it was clear early on that he wasn't going to change that here. Pinto kept out Urzaiz and Lacruz, and later on he got in the way of a Javi González header, with Urzaiz sending the rebound to the corner flag with the goal at his mercy. The only replies from Celta came from Catanha, with Lafuente turning his shot away for a corner. Ten minutes from half time Etxeberria got his first of the season, but Bilbao's joys were short lived as Tomás levelled the scores two minutes later.

Celta were starting to feel the hangover from their Thursday night epic comeback against Red Star, and their players were listless and tired. At half time Víctor took off Benni, moving Karpin forward and bringing in Vagner to the double pivot position alongside Giovanella. Txetxu introduced Del Horno, a more attacking player, at left back. Within five minutes the home side took the lead, Lacruz finally breaking the jinx scoring from a corner, which Bilbao had not been able to do for many months. Jesuli came on for Celta and went close with a header, but otherwise Bilbao dominated and could have extended their lead. In the end though they achieved their first win in six matches, which moves them away from the bottom spots up to fourteenth. Celta drop out of the top five down to eighth, and hope that the week's rest for international football will allow them to recoup forces.