Wed, Jan 22, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Bilbao defeat Valladolid to retake fourth

CHAMPIONS DUEL:Bilbao are vying with Villarreal for the No. 4 spot in the tables that will be their ticket to the Champions League next season if they hold on to it

Reuters

Aritz Aduriz of Athletic Bilbao heads the ball in their La Liga match against Real Valladolid at the San Mames Barrio on Monday in Bilbao, Spain.

Photo: AFP

Athletic Bilbao climbed back above Villarreal into fourth place in La Liga after Ibai Gomez struck twice in a 4-2 comeback win at home to struggling Real Valladolid on Monday.

Oscar Gonzalez stabbed the ball in from close range to give the visitors a surprise 15th-minute lead at a rain-soaked San Mames Barria, while Valladolid goalkeeper Diego Marino kept Bilbao at bay until midway through the second half with a host of fine saves.

The 23-year-old Spain youth international, a product of Villarreal’s academy, was unable to prevent Gomez leveling with a clinical finish from a tight angle in the 65th.

Substitute Oscar De Marcos fired Bilbao ahead with a close-range header 10 minutes later, before Gomez completed his double in the 82nd with another low strike and Ander Herrera nodded a fourth with four minutes to go.

Valladolid substitute Valdet Rama then lashed the ball into the roof of the net in added time after a run through the home defense.

Bilbao, who visit Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey Cup tomorrow, have won nine of their 11 league games at their new stadium this season and drawn two.

Monday’s victory lifted them back above Villarreal, who won 2-0 at home to UD Almeria on Sunday, into the fourth spot that would earn them a berth in the Champions League qualifiers next season.

The Basque club have 39 points from 20 matches, while Villarreal are fifth on 37.

Real Sociedad are sixth on 33 after drawing 2-2 at Getafe on Sunday, while Valladolid are third-from-bottom on 16.

“We are on a very good run at home,” Gomez told broadcaster Cuatro. “We have often fallen behind, but managed to turn the game around and that counts for a lot.

“The team is in good shape and we are maintaining our intensity for the whole 90 minutes, which is very important,” he added.

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