First Division - Day 26

Athletic Bilbao 2 - Real Madrid 1

Bilbao: Lafuente; Javi González, Aitor Ocio, Larrainzar, Del Horno (Larrazábal 65'); Orbaiz, Alkiza; Joseba Etxeberria (Ezquerro 85'), Tiko, Yeste (Carlos García 75'); Urzaiz. 4-2-3-1.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Pavón (Guti 77'), Roberto Carlos (McManaman 80'); Iván Helguera, Makelele (Solari 60'); Figo, Zidane, Munitis; Morientes. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Bilbao: Javi González, Orbaiz, Joseba Etxeberria for Murillo, Oscar Vales, Julen Guerrero / Madrid: Michel Salgado, Hierro, Munitis for Miñambres, Karanka, Guti.

1-0. 29. Tiko. Took pass from Ocio and hit spectacular shot from outside area.
2-0. 45. Del Horno. Got ahead of Helguera to head Yeste corner past Casillas.
2-1. 55. Morientes. Beat Lafuente after Larrainzar missed Munitis cross.

For the fifth week in a row the lead changed hands as the team at the top slipped up. This week it was the turn of erstwhile leaders Real Madrid who lost 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao, their third away defeat in a row. Bilbao were looking for revenge for their cup semi-final defeat at the hands of the league champions and Heynckes put out his strongest side, which meant his off-form club captain Julen Guerrero was not even in the 18 man squad. Hierro passed a late fitness test on his shoulder and he joined Del Bosque's starting line up, but Guti's back pains meant that, in the absence of the injured Raúl, Munitis came in for a rare start. Otherwise though it was the usual line up, with Del Bosque not keen on rotating his squad despite an important Champions League game on Wednesday.

Bilbao were motivated right from the start, and in the opening minutes Casillas was forced to make a point blank save from Etxeberria and Del Horno sent a header against the post. The game was stopped for five minutes as political protesters got onto the pitch and tried to untie the goal nets before police and security guards carried them away, but when play restarted it was more of the same. It was only a matter of time before the Basques took the lead, and they did so in spectacular fashion when Tiko (nicknamed by the press as "Fantas-tiko") picked up the ball outside of the area and let fly from over 35 metres out, the ball dipping over Casillas into the top corner of the net. Then on the stroke of half time Del Horno got ahead of Iván Helguera to head Yesté's corner down past Casillas.

Del Bosque's half time chat had some effect, and Madrid finally pulled a goal back through Morientes, Helguera sending Munitis away down the left wing for him to send in a cross which Larrainzar failed to cut out. It was the Spanish international striker's seventh goal in a week and takes him further clear at the top of the Pichichi table. For a few minutes then it looked as if the visitors would equalise, and Del Bosque threw on Solari and Guti to strengthen the attack and then McManaman when Roberto Carlos had to go off with a rib injury. But in the end Bilbao were unlucky not to go further ahead when Urzaiz headed an easy chance wide and Solari cleared an Exteberria effort off the line with Casillas beaten. Madrid have not won away now since early December and they drop to second place, only a point now ahead of Athletic who rise up to sixth.