Athletic Bilbao checked newly promoted Villarreal’s impressive early-season run when they beat the team with the distinctive canary-yellow strip 2-0 at the San Mames Barria in La Liga on Monday.
Villarreal were already two goals down when captain Bruno Soriano, one of Spain’s most elegant midfielders, was harshly shown a second yellow card in first-half stoppage-time.
Midfielder Mikel Rico had put Bilbao ahead with a 33rd-minute header and forward Aritz Aduriz ended a barren spell with his first of the campaign when he punished a defensive howler from Mateo Musacchio two minutes later.
Bilbao, who have struggled on the road, but have now won four and drawn one at the San Mames Barria, climbed to sixth on 16 points from nine games, while Villarreal, who held Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw at El Madrigal last month, stay fourth on 17.
“We have put ourselves in a good position and what we need to do now is to get some positive away results,” Bilbao captain Andoni Iraola said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster Cuatro.
“We are feeling fantastic here at home and are delighted with the new stadium,” he said.
RC Celta de Vigo’s earlier game at home against Levante UD was disrupted by torrential rain sweeping across Galicia that sparked a lighting failure at halftime at a saturated Balaidos.
The second period started about a quarter of an hour late and with the players splashing through puddles on the playing surface the game eventually finished 1-0 to the visitors thanks to Papakouli Diop’s 89th-minute volleyed winner.
Levante climbed to ninth on 13 points, while struggling Celta are in 19th place on six points.
Champions Barcelona and Atletico Madrid dropped their first points of the season on Saturday when they drew 0-0 at CA Osasuna and lost 1-0 at RCD Espanyol respectively, missing out on the chance to equal the best ever start to La Liga.
Third-placed Real Madrid closed to within three points of Barca ahead of Saturday’s Clasico at the Camp Nou and within two of Atletico when they won 2-0 at home to Malaga.