Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz scored a hat-trick to lead a 4-0 rout of 10-man Granada at home on Friday, as the Basque side strengthened its hold on Spain’s last Champions League berth for next season.
Aduriz headed home Markel Susaeta’s cross in the sixth minute to open the scoring at the San Mames Stadium.
He bettered that with a long-range blast that went in off the goal frame in the 18th, and converted a penalty in the 72nd after Diego Mainz was sent off for fouling Aduriz with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Bilbao defender Carlos Gurpegi capped the win in the 80th with a volley from outside the box.
Bilbao could have won by a wider margin if it had not been for ‘keeper Roberto Fernandez. Granada did not muster a shot on goal.
Bilbao’s first victory in their last three home games left them in fourth place and seven points ahead of Villarreal and Real Sociedad, who were scheduled to play yesterday.
Real Madrid lead the league by three points over Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and all three front-runners are far ahead of Bilbao and the other teams fighting for fourth place and the final Champions League spot.
“I’m happy the team won again,” Aduriz said. “To stay at the top you have to keep winning week after week. There is a long way to go and it will be very tough, because there are some good teams in the fight. But we will give it our all to stay in fourth place.”
Granada’s fifth consecutive loss away from home left them five points from the relegation zone.