First Division - Day 20

Athletic Bilbao 3 - Real Sociedad 0

Athletic: Aranzubia; Javi González, Aitor Ocio, Luis Prieto, Del Horno (Larrazábal 88'); Oskar Vales, Alkiza; Joseba Etxeberría, Tiko (Felipe 94'), Yeste; Urzaiz (Ezquerro 90'). 4-2-3-1.
Real Sociedad: Westerveld; López Rekarte, Jauregi, Schürrer, Aranzábal; Xabi Alonso, Aranburu (De Paula 71'); Karpin, Nihat, De Pedro (Barkero 46'); Kovacevic. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Athletic: Aitor Ocio, Luis Prieto, Tiko for Lacruz, Karanka, Gurpegui / Real: Aranburu, Karpin for Kvarme, Tayfun.

1-0. 18. Etxeberría. Beat keeper from edge of area after low Yeste free kick.
2-0. 74. Etxeberría. Controlled long free kick and hit shot past Westerveld.
3-0. 92. Ezquerro. First time shot on far post after Etxeberría swung ball over.

If there was one place that leaders Real Sociedad did not want to lose their twenty-two game unbeaten league record, it was in the San Mamés stadium. However that is exactly what happened as their local rivals Athletic Bilbao ran out 3-0 winners thanks to a great performance from a man who played for the San Sebastian side earlier in his career, Joseba Etxeberría. The Spanish international winger scored a goal in each half and set up Ezquerro for a late third to move his side away from the danger zone.

The first surprise of the night though was in the Bilbao line up, where Heyckes brought in two central defenders, Aitor Ocio and Luis Prieto, who had hardly played all season. It proved to be an inspired move though, as the two shadowed the Real strikers Kovacevic and Nihat, and with some lenient refereeing (to say the least) from Muñiz Fernández they made the game a complete nightmare for the league's top goalscoring duo.

Basque derbies are always hard fought, and with rain falling it was bound to be a game for the brave-hearted. The tone was set in the sixth minute when the referee failed to spot De Pedro stamp on Javi González while he was on the ground, and there were numerous fouls throughout the match from both sides. Athletic took the lead though from a set piece Yeste free kick, Etxeberría beating Westerveld from the edge of the area, Karpin's appeals for a foul as he was pushed over falling on deaf ears. A few minutes later the referee also turned down claims for a penalty when Ocio felled Kovacevic in the area, and the Real striker lashed out at his marker later in the half when for the umpteenth time he held on to his shirt following a corner.

Athletic were getting the better of their opponents though, and Yeste saw his shot hit the post after taking a deflection off López Rekarte. Denoueix brought on Barkero for De Pedro at the break, but the home side scored again, Jauregi failing to control a long free kick leaving Etxeberría free to beat Westerveld for a second time. Real's frustrations showed through when Nihat was sent off after hacking Alkiza down from behind, and Etxeberría rounded off a great night setting up late substitute Ezquerro for a third goal in injury time. Real's were beaten in the league for the first time since mid-April last year, and the big question now is whether they will bounce back. The season is still only halfway through.