El Arabi’s brace sinks Athletic Bilbao

Reuters, MADRID

Wed, Oct 02, 2013 - Page 18

Athletic Bilbao missed a chance to climb above Villarreal into fourth place in La Liga when a Youssef El Arabi double condemned the Basque club to a 2-0 defeat at Granada on Monday.

Bilbao had made a solid start to the season after flirting with relegation last term, but they turned in an error-strewn performance devoid of inspiration at Granada’s Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.

El Arabi fired the Andalusian side ahead from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute after Ander Herrera fouled Yacine Brahimi on the edge of the penalty area.

The Morocco international scored his second eight minutes later when Pape Diakhate flicked on a Diego Buonanotte corner and he headed past Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

They were Granada’s first goals at home in four matches this season and the win lifted them to 12th on eight points from seven games. Bilbao stay fifth on 12 points.

“It’s important to win at home and we put in a huge effort,” Buonanotte said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster Cuatro. “It’s all about building confidence and winning games.”

Bilbao midfielder Herrera said his side would have to improve their away form if they are to achieve their objective of qualifying for Europe.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have won all three of their matches at their new San Mames Barria, but have lost their past three on the road after an opening-day win at Real Valladolid.

“If we want to be up at the top of the table we have to perform away from home as well,” Valverde told Cuatro. “There’s no point in looking for excuses. We are a completely different team away from home and that’s what we have to correct.”