Sevilla gifts hand Bilbao crucial win
Madrid: Athletic Bilbao ended a run of four successive league losses with a vital 2-0 home win over European rivals Sevilla at San Mames.
A disastrous own goal from Argentine centre-back Federico Fazio on 66 minutes put Bilbao ahead before Andoni Iraola converted an 88th minute penalty after French defender Julien Escude committed a needless foul.
Bilbao moved a point above Espanyol, who lost 1-0 at promoted Levante on Sunday, into fifth place.
Sevilla, fourth last season, trail Bilbao by three points along with Atletico Madrid as a host of teams tussle for a top six finish.
Sevilla coach Gregorio Manzano had warned of the threat from Bilbao`s striker Fernando Llorente and the Spanish international almost scored in the fifth minute with goalkeeper Javi Varas stopping his header with a fine save.
Varas was then called upon to stop a header from Javi Martinez on 23 minutes as hosts Bilbao started the stronger.
It was a physical encounter between two of the biggest sides in the Spanish top-flight and Llorente was marshalled by the towering Fazio.
Llorente lost his marker to head wide on the 38 minutes and was visibly annoyed with himself for missing the chance.
Sevilla had been toothless but almost broke the deadlock early in the second half with Jesus Navas` cross headed just wide by Freddy Kanoute.
It took a mistake after 66 minutes to decide the game with Fazio getting his feet in a tangle as he tried to clear a whipped-in cross from the left and the Argentine deflected the ball into his own net.
Escude gifted Bilbao the second goal they craved with a reckless tackle in the penalty area two minutes from time and Iraola struck the penalty to clinch the points.