First Division - Day 23

Mallorca 1 - Athletic Bilbao 1

Mallorca: Leo Franco; Campano, Fernando Niño (Miguel Soler 46'), Vicente, Poli; Novo, Robles (Turu Flores 75'), Marcos, Ibagaza; Eto'o (Biagini 81'), Pandiani. 4-4-2.
Athletic: Aranzubia; Javi González, Aitor Ocio, Luis Prieto, Del Horno; Oskar Vales, Alkiza; Joseba Etxeberría, Tiko (Felipe 83'), Arriaga (Aduritz 61'); Ezquerro (César 91'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Mallorca: Campano, Vicente, Poli, Robles for David Cortés, Lussenhoff, Miguel Soler, Lozano / Athletic: Arriaga for Yeste.

0-1. 06. Ezquerro. Header wide of keeper after Javi González chipped ball across.
1-1. 22. Robles. Hit shot past keeper on turn after long throw from Campano.

Athletic Bilbao ended the weekend in ninth place, albeit only three points above seventeenth placed Valladolid, after they drew 1-1 at Mallorca. The Basque side had been on the losing side in all of their last six visits to the island, and Heynckes put out a defensive line up, with Oskar Vales playing as a third central defender for much of the match. His side started on the offensive though, and within six minutes they were ahead when Ezquerro headed Javi González's cross past Leo Franco.

The home fans feared the worst. Their seven wins in a row earlier in the season is now ancient history, and with five defeats in a row and only six points from their last twelve matches they are rapidly approaching the danger zone. This time though they reacted positively, and Robles, given a rare start for the suspended Lozano, was upset to see Rodríguez Santiago rule out a goal in the twentieth minute for the positional offside of Fernando Niño. The under 21 international bounced back though, and two minutes later the referee saw nothing wrong when he connected with Campano's cross on the turn to beat Aranzubia for the equaliser.

For the rest of the first half the home side bore down on their opponents goal, but their twin strike force of Pandiani and Eto'o (who have not scored now in over a month) could not break down Athletic's well ordered defence. Manzano replaced the injured Fernando Niño at the interval with Miguel Soler, making his 500th first division appearance, but it was the visitors who improved in the second half. In the end though a point apiece which really only served to end the respective bad runs of both sides. Mallorca ended the day in fifteenth place, and only defeats for Espanyol and Rayo kept them from sinking nearer to the bottom three.