First Division - Day 34

Atlético Madrid 1 - Athletic Bilbao 1

Atlético: Leo Franco; Velasco, Perea, García Calvo, Antonio López; Ibagaza, Marcelo Sosa (Raúl Medina 66'), Colsa, Gronkjaer (Nano 46'); Salva (Braulio 58'), Fernando Torres. 4-4-2.
Athletic: Aranzubia; Murillo, Lacruz, Gurpegui, Casas; Orbaiz, Tiko; Ezquerro, Yeste (Luis Prieto 76'), Del Horno (Iraola 46'); Llorente (Etxeberría 46'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Atlético: García Calvo, Marcelo Sosa, Salva for Pablo, Sergi, Luccin / Athletic: Casas, Orbaiz, Llorente for César, Etxeberría, Urzaiz.

0-1. 66. Etxeberría. Shot from left of goal on quick counter-attack.
1-1. 78. Colsa. Following up after Aranzubia blocked shot from García Calvo.

Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw, a result which leaves both sides further away from their objective of returning to Europe next season. The only chances in an otherwise dull first half fell to the locals, including a spectacular volley from Fernando Torres which Aranzubia did well to block. Salva turned a cross from Ibagaza wide of the post and Gronkjaer also failed to find the target, and Aranzubia was in action again to save Antonio López's free kick.

An injury to Gronkjaer took Atlético's best man out of the game at the break though, and after that their attacks faltered. Athletic finally advanced into their opponents' half, and Ezquerro would have scored had Perea not cleared his effort off the line with the keeper beaten. And a few minutes later Etxeberría (who had replaced Fernando Torres's namesake Fernando Llorente Torres at half time) picked up a pass on the left of goal and fired in a low shot to open the scoring.

Atlético did manage to equalise though a few minutes later, although there was an element of fortune when García Calvo's shot was blocked by Aranzubia but only as far as Colsa, who poked the ball in to the empty net. For a few minutes both sides tried for the winner, but when García Calvo was sent off in the closing minutes they decided that a point was the best they could get. The result leaves the two teams four points away from the UEFA cup spots, and their best bet now for a return to Europe is in the cup, where they could even meet in the final next June. Hopefully if they do, they will give us a more entertaining game than this one.