Wed, Apr 28, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Bilbao’s European dreams suffer in Osasuna stalemate

AFP , MADRID

Defender Roberto “Ruper“ Lopez, left, of Osasuna and Fernando Llorente of Athletic Club Bilbao vie for control of the ball during their Spanish Primera Division soccer match at Reyno de Navarra stadium in Pamplona, Navarra, Spain, on Monday.

PHOTO: EPA

Athletic Bilbao dropped key points in their bid for a place in the Europa League after being held to a 0-0 draw on Monday by Osasuna.

It was a hard-fought battle from beginning to end between the two rivals from the north of Spain.

What the game gained in determination and work-rate it lost in finesse with chances few and far between.

While Osasuna, looking to secure their top-flight status, tried to take the game to Athletic they rarely caused any danger and it was the visitors who had the better chances in the first half with Fernando Llorente going closest with a header palmed away by the Osasuna goalkeeper Ricardo Lopez.

Osasuna’s main threat came from Juanfran Torres down the right wing and he almost caught out goalkeeper Gorka Iraola with a cross which turned into more of a shot, but Iraola managed to scramble the ball away.

There were even fewer chances after the break and so Athletic will consider it as two points dropped that would have kept them level with Villarreal in sixth place.

Barcelona remain a point clear at the top of the table after a shaky performance in a 3-1 victory over bottom side Xerez. Real Madrid kept up the pressure a point behind them with a 2-1 win over Zaragoza thanks to a late goal from super-sub Kaka on his return from injury.

While Valencia consolidated their third position with a 1-0 win over Deportivo la Coruna the battle for the final Champions League place remains intense. Mallorca surprisingly only managed a 1-1 draw with Malaga and then Sevilla, with the chance to leapfrog them into fourth, crashed 4-3 away at Getafe.

At the other end of the table a 3-1 defeat for Tenerife against Atletico Madrid meant they missed out on the chance of moving clear of the relegation zone while Valladolid’s remarkable recovery continues under new coach Javier Clemente as they beat Sporting Gijon 2-0 away.

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