First Division - Day 24

Athletic Bilbao 3 - Málaga 2

Bilbao: Lafuente; Javi González, Aitor Ocio, Alkorta, Del Horno; Orbaiz, Alkiza; Tiko, Julen Guerrero (Carlos García 73'), Joseba Etxeberria; Ezquerro (Urzaiz 80'). 4-2-3-1.
Málaga: Contreras; Josemi, Fernando Sanz, Roteta, Valcarce; Gerardo, Edgar, Leko (Duda 70'), Zárate, Musampa (Dely Valdés 70'); Canabal (Calandria 85'). 4-5-1.

Team changes: Bilbao: Javi González, Aitor Ocio, Alkorta, Alkiza, Tiko, Ezquerro for Felipe, Oscar Vales, Larrainzar, Urrutia, Yeste, Urzaiz / Málaga: Valcarce, Edgar, Leko, Zárate, Canabal for Litos, Romero, Miguel Angel, Darío Silva, Dely Valdés.

1-0. 05. Alkiza. Shot from outside of the area which took slight deflection off Edgar.
1-1. 29. Canabal. Following up after Lafuente stopped shot from Musampa.
2-1. 33. Ezquerro. Headed past keeper after run and centre by Del Horno.
2-2.75. Dely Valdés. Shot on far post after Canabal headed on corner.
3-2. 92. Alkorta. Beat keeper from outside of area after free kick from right.

Rafa Alkorta returned in style to the Athletic Bilbao side, scoring an injury time winner to help his team beat Málaga 3-2. The international defender has been out with an injury since July, and came in to a changed side as Heynckes rested his tired players, with Ezquerro playing at centre forward in place of Urzaiz. On the opposite bench Peiró was missing four players through suspension including striker Darío Silva, and decided to make a clean sweep of his forward line, leaving off-form Dely Valdés on the bench to give Canabal and Edgar a rare start. Bilbao took the lead in the fifth minute of the game when Alkiza beat Contreras for his first goal of the season, his shot taking a deflection off Edgar. However Málaga came back, with Canabal in the action right from the start, and the big striker levelled the scores after Lafuente failed to hold on to an effort from Musampa. Their joy only lasted four minutes though before Ezquerro headed the Basques back in front, and Tiko went close to extending the home side's lead before the break.

Peiró brought on Duda and Dely Valdés midway through the second half, and Heynckes responded bringing on another anchor man Carlos García to keep an eye on the extra forward. However Dely wanted to prove his manager wrong for leaving him on the bench, and he managed to find a bit of space on the far post to tuck home the equaliser with a quarter of an hour to go. The game of cat and mouse continued and Heynckes turned to Urzaiz to bail him out. However it was the unexpected figure of Alkorta who drove a shot into the net in injury time to keep Bilbao's European hopes alive. Bilbao stay in eighth place, but in this closest of all seasons only four points separate them from leaders Valencia. Málaga drop to sixteenth having gone five games without a win, and need a victory at home to Alavés at the weekend to stop the rot.