Los Che secured their eighth win in nine games after coming from behind to defeat Bilbao...
Valencia stretched their unbeaten record to 15 games thanks to a somewhat lucky 2-1 victory at the San Mames stadium tonight.
Fernando Llorente opened the scoring when he turned expertly inside the six yard box forcing the ball beyond Vicente Guita inside the opening quater of an hour.
Los Che had to wait until the 70th minute before they found an equaliser throught Juan Mata. Joaquin sent in a wonderful cross which Mata turned in, to level the game at 1-1.
Valencia completed their recovery after Gorka Iraizoz could only spill Tino Costa’s initial effort into the path of Goncalves Jonas who had the simplest of tap ins to give his side the lead.
Fernando Llorente should have given his side the lead in the seventh minute, after good work by the unorthodox right-back De Marcos. He crossed for Llorente who turned the ball towards goal but Guaita palmed the effort around the post brilliantly.
Moments later, Gaizka Toquero managed to get in behind the Valencian defence and pull the ball back for Llorente. The Spaniard found some space to sweep the ball beyond the goalkeeper to give his side the lead in the 15th minute.
Joaquin combined with Pablo Hernandez to force an opening for Los Che who responded positively to going a goal down. Joaquin burst into the penalty area after Pablo’s return ball but Iraizoz smothered the midfielder’s effort.
With the game approaching half-time both side’s lacked any urgency until Valencia thought they had earned a penalty. Borja Ekiza seemed to have handled the ball as he cut out Bruno’s cross but the referee remained unmoved despite the fierce Valencian protests.
Los Che were still incensed by the referee’s decision when Los Leones sped forward. Iker Muniain crossed for David Lopez who came close to extending his side’s lead, but the midfielder drove his shot into the side-netting.
Within seconds of the re-start David Navarro’s elbow crashed into Llorente forcing the striker to leave the field whilst he received stitches to his head.
Athletic came close to extending their lead when Toquero raced past two defenders on the left-flank. He cut inside but with no-one available to centre it for he opted to shoot, but Guita had positioned himself well.
The Lion King, Llorente, then crashed an effort against the post after turning Marius Stankevicius on the edge of the 18 yard box. He looked to curl it inside the net but his shot rebounded out off the base of the upright.Valencia showed their class with a tremendous goal soon after. Joaquin played a one-two with Mehmet Topal before sending an inviting cross inside the six yard box which Mata expertly turned home.
Los Leones thought they had resumed the lead after substitute Markel Susaeta slid in to divert the ball home but as he turned to celebrate the offside flag was rightly raised.
Los Che came close to taking the lead through Tino Costa but Iraizoz scrambled across to tip the ball around the post.
The same player forced the goalkeeper into action moments later but Iraizoz could only fumble the ball into the path of Brazilian poacher Jonas who accepted the easiest of chances to give Valencia the lead with just nine minutes remaining.
Substitute Igor Gabilando looked to pull Los Leones back into the game with a devilish free-kick but his effort narrowly whistled past the post deep into injury time.
Bilbao threw all players into the mix, including goalkeeper Iraizoz as they looked to find that equaliser late on but Valencia defended their lead resiliently.
Los Leones travel to Zaragoza on Wednesday and will hope for an immediate recovery after tonight’s devastating defeat.
Valencia face Barcelona next and will hope that they continue their impressive form as they look to secure one of the automatic Champions League places.