First Division - Day 23

Mallorca 1 - Athletic Bilbao 0

Mallorca: Leo Franco; Olaizola, Fernando Niño, Nadal, Miguel Soler; Finidi, Engonga, Novo (Francisco Soler 65'), Carreras; Luque (Güiza 85'), Carlos (Armando 80'). 4-4-2.
Bilbao: Lafuente; Larrainzar, Oscar Vales, Lacruz, Del Horno; Felipe (Urrutia 65'), Orbaiz (Tiko 80'); Etxeberria, Julen Guerrero (Yeste 72'), Alkiza; Urzaiz. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Mallorca: Carlos for Marcos / Bilbao: Del Horno, Felipe for Larrazábal, Urrutia.

1-0. 31. Carlos. Ran on to Finidi's pass, beat Oscar Vales and shot past keeper.

Mallorca kept up their challenge for the Champions League spots with a narrow victory over Athletic Bilbao. The island team are now sixth in the league, level on points with Villarreal and only two behind Barcelona, with a five point gap after this match to seventh placed Rayo Vallecano. The hero of the day was the forgotten man, Carlos, who only came in to the side due to the injury to Ibagaza and the absence of the suspended Eto'o. Carlos scored the only goal of the game in the first half and was a constant nightmare for the Bilbao side, a team that he has usually done well against. With Marcos also suspended and Biagini dropping out shortly before the game, Aragonés called up two youngsters, Güiza, who played a couple of times early in the season, and Albert Riera, a left sided midfielder.

Bilbao lined up with virtually the same side that beat Real Madrid last week, Del Horno replacing the injured Larrazábal at left back and Felipe coming in in place of Urrutia. But the Lions away from home have lost their roar this season, and once again they put on a poor display, allowing their opponents to take over the game right from the start. Only Lafuente stood between them and a hammering, with saves from Luque (being watched by Juventus) early in both halves and Carlos later on.

Miguel Soler hit the post in the second half with a great strike which deserved better luck, but ten minutes from the end Aragonés decided to play it safe, much to the disgust of the crowd, and replaced Carlos with Armando. However Bilbao almost snatched an undeserved point at the end, with Guerrero holding on to the ball too long and allowing Leo Franco to intervene. Athletic keep up their recent losing record in Mallorca and drop down to twelfth, already a long way off their objective of European football for next season. Mallorca though are well on the way.