Bilbao thump Valladolid 4-2 to regain fourth spot
Madrid: 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 and 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 levelling with a clinical finish from a tight angle in the 65th minute.
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 powerful run through the home defence.
Bilbao, who visit Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the King`s Cup on Thursday, 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 Almeria on Sunday, into the fourth spot that earns a berth in Champions League qualifying next season.
The Basque club have 39 points from 20 matches and Villarreal are fifth on 37. Real Sociedad, who drew 2-2 at Getafe on Sunday, are sixth on 33 while Valladolid are third from bottom on 16.
"We are on a very good run at home," Gomez told television 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."
Elsewhere, third-placed Real Madrid closed within a point of joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid thanks to Saturday`s 5-0 win at bottom club Real Betis.
On Sunday, Barca came from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Levante and Atletico let slip the lead in a 1-1 stalemate at home to Sevilla.
Barca and Atletico have 51 points, with the champions ahead on goal difference.