Athletic Club Bilbao blew the race for the Spanish BBVA Primera Liga wide open on Saturday as they defeated leaders Real Madrid 1-0 in the San Mames Stadium.
They ended a fantastic week for the club and also avenged Real Madrid’s apparent decision to refuse to allow the Santiago Bernabeu to be used for the King’s Cup final.
Anyone looking at the score will see that Aritz Aduriz’s spectacular 26th minute header was the difference between the two teams, but that does not tell the full story as Athletic, driven on by 50,000 fans, took Madrid apart for virtually the entire 90 minutes of the game.
The Basques, despite being without central midfielders Ander Iturraspe and Mikel San Jose and despite having had just 68 minutes to recover since the end of their Cup semi-final on Wednesday, outran and outplayed Real Madrid, who were a shadow of the side that won over 20 consecutive matches at the end of last year.
The goal came when Aduriz netted his 10th goal of the campaign with a spectacular header in the 26th minute of the game following a swinging cross sent over by Mikel Rico.
Adiriz will grab the headlines, but other Athletic Club players, such as youngster Inaki Williams, who was a constant threat down the left wing, and midfielders Benat and Rico, were also outstanding for the home side, while their defense limited Real Madrid to just one chance all game, when Gareth Bale almost scored from the halfway line.
Athletic’s win means that if Barcelona are able to win at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday lunchtime, the Catalans will take over the leadership of the BBVA Primera Liga just two weeks before they entertain Madrid in the Camp Nou stadium. Enditem.