Gregorio Manzano's side emerged winners in this seven-goal thriller, but the ten men had to endure a late scare in order to seal the points...
The Brazilian, who had managed just a single goal in ten appearances in all competitions before this match, appears to be back to his clinical best, with two excellent finishes either side of a Frederic Kanoute penalty as the hosts took a 3-0 lead.
Los Leones only looked dangerous after the hosts had been reduced to ten men when Fernando Navarro was dismissed for two bookable offences, and with a man advantage, Fernando Llorente netted a quick-fire double to set up a grandstand finish.
However, a truly bizarre penalty award handed Kanoute the chance to kill of Joaquin Caparros' side and take the points, which he duly accepted. Igor Gabilondo's injury-time header came too late for another comeback.
Coach Gregorio Manzano was expected to opt for his apparent first-choice pairing of Alvaro Negredo and Frederic Kanoute, but instead gave Luis Fabiano the opportunity to prove his worth after a difficult start to the season.
The Brazilian responded in kind, producing a vibrant performance that the Basque visitors simply couldn’t handle, and it was he who opened the scoring on 35 minutes. The 30-year-old combined well with his regular compatriot Kanoute who laid the ball into his path to allow him to power into the corner.
On the stroke of half-time, Fabiano, with confidence restored, played a pivotal role in los Nervionenses doubling their advantage.
Koffi Romaric’s pin-point through pass sent him clear on goal, and the referee adjudged Ustaritz’s challenge to be an illegal one. Kanoute took responsibility, and drilled home the kick with the aid of the upright, to give Sevilla supremacy heading into the interval.
Romaric, who has been much-maligned by Sevilla’s supporters following his arrival in the summer of 2009, was inspirational throughout the match, and his supremacy was underlined when his wonderful raking pass expertly found Fabiano, who controlled instantly before lobbing over the advancing Iraizoz, to seemingly all but end the contest.
However, Fernando Navarro was dismissed minutes later for a second yellow, and Athletic Bilbao enjoyed ten minutes of dominance. Fernando Llorente headed home on 74 minutes, then shortly after made it 3-2 after he converted the rebound from his own missed penalty, in the wake of Abdoulay Konko's hand-ball.
At that point, Bilbao were gearing themselves to chase an unlikely point, but referee Clos Gomez, in conjunction with his assistant, somehow arrived at the decision that Alvaro Negredo's clash with the onrushing Iraizoz was worthy of a penalty kick. It was a truly dreadful award, in a season where Primera Division officials have been less than convincing.
Kanoute made no mistake from the spot, and despite Gabilondo heading home a Javi Martinez cross deep into injury time, Sevilla were relieved to secure the points after a spirited Bilbao fightback, edging back into the top six in the table in the process.