First Division - Day 36

Villarreal 1 - Athletic Bilbao 1

Villarreal: Reina; Belletti, Quique Alvarez, Ballesteros, Arruabarrena (Galván 73'); Josico (Quique Medina 22'), Farinós; Jorge López, Víctor, Calleja; Palermo (De Nigris 65'). 4-2-3-1.
Athletic: Aranzubia; Luis Prieto (Javi González 61'), Aitor Ocio, Karanka, Del Horno; Gurpegui (Murillo 70'), Alkiza; Etxeberría, Tiko, Ezquerro (Arriaga 75'); Urzaiz. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Villarreal: Víctor, Palermo for Guayre, De Nigris / Athletic: Aitor Ocio, Tiko for Lacruz, Yeste.

1-0. 03. Víctor. Turned ball in close to goal after Arruabarrena crossed from left.
1-1. 30. Etxeberría. Shot from right of goal after Reina blocked Urzaiz shot.

Athletic Bilbao held on to sixth spot after drawing 1-1 at Villarreal, although their lead was cut to two points after Barcelona and Sevilla both won. Having gone eight games without defeat Heynckes was confident of a result, but his side found themselves behind in the third minute when the defence failed to cut out Arruabarrena's cross, Víctor gleefully turning the ball into the net to celebrate his return to the starting line up. But Etxeberría levelled the scores on the half hour mark after Reina could only push out a close range shot from Urzaiz, and although Palermo could have scored for the locals a few minutes later, the sides went in level at the interval.

After the break Villarreal took control, and only some good goalkeeping from Aranzubia kept out Farinós, Jorge López and then substitute De Nigris. In the last minute Víctor got the ball in the net, but just as the celebrations began referee Rubinos Pérez disallowed the strike for a questionable foul by Ballesteros in the play leading up to the goal. As it happened Floro's side were mathematically safe anyway after Alavés and Recreativo lost, but with the team registered for the Intertoto cup they need to finish in the top twelve to be eligible, one place higher than they are at the moment.