First Division - Day 15

Valencia 2 - Athletic Bilbao 1

Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Marchena, Carboni; Albelda, Baraja (Pellegrino 82'); Jorge López (Rufete 63'), Aimar (Xisco 83'), Vicente; Mista. 4-2-3-1.
Athletic: Aranzubia; Lacruz, Karanka, Luis Prieto, Del Horno; Orbaiz, Oskar Vales (Julen Guerrero 82'); Etxeberría (Urzaiz 73'), Jonan García (Arriaga 46'), Yeste; Ezquerro. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Valencia: Albelda, Jorge López, Mista for Pellegrino, Rufete, Oliveira / Athletic: Del Horno, Orbaiz, Oskar Vales, Jonan García, Ezquerro for Larrazábal, Iraola, Tiko, Gurpegui, Urzaiz.

1-0. 18. Vicente. Volleyed home cross from Curro Torres on far post.
1-1. 52. Ezquerro. Rolled ball into empty net after Carboni tackled Etxeberría.
2-1. 65. Vicente. Ran on to short pass from Aimar to hit shot which deflected in.

Valencia held on to second spot with an exciting 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, a match which had a big sting in the tail with two sendings off and two saved penalties. Mista had a goal disallowed for offside early on, but a few minutes later he won the ball back from Karanka on the by-line and laid it back for Jorge López to set up Vicente for the opening goal. Athletic were hardly in the game in the first half, but they equalised through Ezquerro only seven minutes after the restart, Carboni's tackle on Etxeberría only leaving the ball at the feet of the acting centre forward.

Both keepers were in action later in the half, but the home side were looking the better of the two, with Aimar a constant menace down the left wing. And it was the Argentine international who set up the second goal for his side, winning back the ball after his first shot was blocked and setting up Vicente for him to drill home his second goal of the night. After that it was end to end stuff, with an unmarked Ezquerro steering a header wide, Mista just failing to turn in Aimar's cross, Cañizares saving a dangerous Lacruz free kick and substitute Xisco rolling a shot against the post.

But referee Daudén Ibáñez saved the best for last, punishing Lacruz for a push on Vicente with a second yellow card and a penalty. Aranzubia dived to save Rufete's kick though, and two minutes later the situation was reversed, Daúden awarding a penalty to the visitors after Pellegrino pulled over Urzaiz. The referee mistook the perpetrator and gave a second yellow card to Ayala, and when the protests died down Cañizares incredibly flung himself down to save Urzaiz's kick as well. Seconds later the whistle went, keeping Valencia in the title hunt and leaving Athletic out of the top six. It could have been all so different.