First Division - Day 10

Athletic Bilbao 2 - Rayo Vallecano 1

Athletic: Lafuente; Javi González, Murillo (Tiko 69'), Lacruz, Larrazábal; Gurpegui, Alkiza; Joseba Etxeberría, Ezquerro (Julen Guerrero 76'), Arriaga (Karanka 87'); Urzaiz. 4-2-3-1.
Rayo: Etxeberria; Mario, Corino, Mainz, Graff; Azkoitia, Onopko; Julio Alvarez, Mora (Michel 67'), Peragón (Dorado 65'); Bolo (Bolic 71'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Athletic: Alkiza, Ezquerro, Arriaga for Oscar Vales, Tiko, Yeste / Rayo: Graff for Dorado.

0-1. 43. Bolo. Ran on to short pass and hit low shot past keeper.
1-1. 76. Urzaiz. Header on far post after cross in from left wing.
2-1. 79. Larrazábal (penalty). After Arriaga brought down inside area.

For the second home match in a row, Athletic Bilbao came from a goal down to win the game in the last few minutes. A fortnight ago Celta were the victims thanks to a last minute strike from Urzaiz, and this time Rayo Vallecano were hit by the big man plus some dubious refereeing decisions. Athletic manager Jupp Heynckes has been holding on to his job by the skin of his teeth, and was even rumoured to be on his way to Bayern Munich to take over the ailing German giants. However his Houdini like performance continued here, and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta confirmed that there were no plans to remove him.

The opening few minutes of the game were rather dull, and both sides only came to life after Urzaiz lunged into Azkoitia, the referee letting off the striker with a yellow card. Rayo striker Bolo was returning to his old club, eager to take revenge after he was dumped at the last minute this summer with a new contract ready to be signed, and after going close, he opened the scoring on the stroke of half time with a low shot past Lafuente. Some players refuse to celebrate out of respect for an old club, but not Bolo who made the most out of the suffering of the local fans. .

At the start of the second half Bolo missed a great opportunity to extend the lead, but a few minutes later the Rayo defence had to clear off the line from Murillo. Heynckes took off the young central defender though to bring on an extra attacker, Tiko, and within a few minutes his team were level when Urzaiz rose to head home his fifth goal in three matches. Three minutes later Larrazábal put the Basque side in front from the penalty spot after Arriaga was brought down in the area, and Rayo were on their way to their fourth defeat in a row.

The visitors did feel themselves hard done by though when substitute Bolic was brought down by Lafuente outside of the penalty area as he advanced on goal near the end, referee Pérez Pérez not reacting, and then to top things off Azkoitia was given a second yellow card in the last minute leaving his side with ten men. That is football though, and at the end of the day Athletic move up to twelfth in the table and Rayo are seventeenth, only out of the bottom three thanks to a better goal average than Osasuna. It could have been so different.