|First Division - Day 29|
Athletic Bilbao 4 - Real Madrid 2
Javi González, Luis Prieto, Lacruz, Del Horno; Gurpegui, Tiko (Orbaiz
57'); Iraola, Etxeberría, Yeste (Ezquerro 65'); Urzaiz (Julen Guerrero
Team changes: Athletic: Lacruz, Del Horno, Urzaiz for Karanka, Larrazábal, Ezquerro / Madrid: Michel Salgado, Mejía, Iván Helguera, Guti, Figo, Raúl for Pavón, Raúl Bravo, Cambiasso, Juanfran, Portillo.
The race for the league title was thrown open once again after Athletic Bilbao beat Real Madrid 4-2. The "Galacticos" are starting to show the strain of a long hard season, but with very few alternatives to choose from, Carlos Queiroz put out a side which only showed two changes from the starting line up in Wednesday night's cup final, Casillas returning in place of César and Mejía coming in for Raúl Bravo.
Both keepers were in action early on, Casillas saving an effort from Etxeberría with his feet and Aranzubia tipping over a dangerous shot from Figo. A lapse of concentration though by Iván Helguera five minutes before the break led to the first goal for the Basques, the defender giving the ball away to Yeste for him to run on and score. And before half time Urzaiz had made it two when he found space in the penalty box to head Tiko's free kick down past Casillas.
Madrid came back though after the break, and within a minute Raúl pulled one back in a good team move, Zidane heading on Figo's cross for Solari to knock it down into the path of the striker. A quarter of an hour later Raúl was there again to finish off after Figo sent Roberto Carlos away down the left wing.
But Wednesday's gruelling match finally took it's toll, and the tired Madrid defenders could do nothing when Del Horno stole in to head an Orbaiz free kick past Casillas, and then cut past Helguera to score another only two minutes later. Curiously the Bilbao left back has only scored eight times in his career, but four of them have been against Madrid.
Urzaiz could have made it five in the dying minutes, but Casillas stood his ground and foiled the attempt. It was a crushing defeat though for the leaders coming on the heels of their loss in the cup, and Valencia could move to within a point of them if they win on Sunday. Athletic hold on to fifth spot, and are looking good for a return to Europe this year.