First Division - Day 37

Athletic Bilbao 1 - Osasuna 1

Bilbao: Lafuente; Felipe, Alkorta, Oscar Vales, Larrazábal; Urrutia, Alkiza; Cuéllar (Javi González 70'), Julen Guerrero (Carlos García 77'), Yeste (Roberto Rios 77'); Ezquerro. 4-3-2-1.
Osasuna: Unzué; Cruchaga, Contreras, Jusué; Yanguas (Rivero 77'), Josetxo (David Cano 65'), Fernando; Palacios, Alfredo (Aloisi 50'), Gancedo; Iván Rosado. 3-3-3-1.

Team changes: Bilbao: Lafuente, Felipe, Oscar Vales, Larrazábal, Cuéllar, Julen Guerrero, Ezquerro for Aranzubia, Murillo, Aitor Ocio, Del Horno, Carlos García, Tiko, Urzaiz / Osasuna: Jusué, Palacios for Puñal, Lekumberri.

1-0. 69. Julen Guerrero. Tap in from close range after Ezquerro touched on.
1-1. 90. Aloisi. Controlled loose ball in area and slid low shot across keeper.

A last minute goal from substitute John Aloisi saved a point for Osasuna against Basque neighbours Bilbao and ensured first division football at Pamplona next season. The results from other grounds left Miguel Angel Lotina's side in sixteenth place, three points above the drop zone, and with a better head-to-head goal difference against eighteenth placed Las Palmas they are mathematically safe for another year. Lotina was missing his suspended midfield general Puñal for this game, and with Lekumberri also unavailable he pushed Josetxo up to midfield. His opposite number Heynckes made six changes to his side, with injuries to key players and a one match ban for Urzaiz leaving him little choice with team selection. Club captain Julen Guerrero was starting a game for the first time since February, and he almost opened the scoring with only 15 seconds on the clock, Unzué making the first of a number of fine saves.

As is usually the case in Basque derbies it was evenly matched, with Alfredo failing to get round young keeper Aranzubia twice in the first half when put through, and Guerrero creating an opening for Urzaiz's replacement Ezquerro which he should have done better with. The negative side though was the rivalry in the crowd, and the game had to be stopped for a couple of minutes as fighting broke out and visiting fans ripped up seats and threw them at police. With news from other grounds filtering through Lotina knew that a draw would be enough, and he pulled his players further and further back as the game wore on.

Bilbao though needed a win to push for the third UEFA cup spot, and their efforts paid off when Ezquerro battled through the defence and just got a toe to the ball to push it on for Guerrero to score. The fans celebrated knowing that their close rivals Alavés and Málaga were losing, and they rose to applaud veteran defender Alkorta, who was playing his last match at the San Mames stadium and had to leave the field near the end when he picked up a second booking and consequently a red card. But it was too early, and Aloisi cut short the festivities when he pulled down a high ball in the area and turned to slide a low shot wide of the keeper. The cheers switched to the other end of the ground, and Bilbao ended the day a point short of seventh spot, needing a minor miracle in their last match to make it back to Europe.