Super subs boost Bilbao
Goals from two half-time substitutes saw Athletic Bilbao battle back for a well-deserved 2-1 win over Levante.
Last Updated: 09/11/13 10:07pm
Goals from two half-time substitutes saw Athletic Bilbao battle back for a well-deserved 2-1 win over Levante in the Primera Division on Saturday night.
The hosts trailed to David Barral's 33rd-minute strike but came good inside the final 20 minutes as first Mikel Rico popped up to level before Aritz Aduriz nodded in the winner six minutes from the end.
Aduriz, who along with Rico was introduced by coach Ernesto Valverde at the interval, failed to complete the match after receiving a straight red card for a late clash with Aloys Nong.
The hosts were keen to bounce back from a listless 2-0 reverse at Atletico Madrid last weekend and went close twice in the early exchanges with Markel Susaeta and Fernandez Guillermo both forcing Keylor Navas into action.
Levante, narrowly beaten at home by Granada last week, weathered the early storm and took the lead shortly after the half-hour when Jordi Xumetra did brilliantly to break free down the right and pull the ball back for Barral, whose initial shot was saved but made sure with the follow-up.
With the hosts showing little sign of getting back on terms before the break Valverde made his double switch ahead of the second half, with Benat replaced by Rico and Iker Muniain coming off fo Aduriz.
Aduriz was soon into the action and with an hour gone his header brought a good save from Navas.
But it was the introduction of Athletic's third and final substitution that finally brought the breakthrough in the 72nd minute.
Just four minutes after coming on, Gaizka Toquero surged down the right and sent over a cross that Navas punched only as far as Rico, who had taken up position just behind the penalty spot and watched the ball all the way down before lashing in a fine volley into the right corner.
And with 84 minutes on the clock the comeback was complete as Ander Iturraspe lofted the ball into the Levante area from midfield and Aduriz managed to generate sufficient power and direction on his header to guide the ball beyond Navas.
Aduriz's night was doomed to end on a sour note, however, when he was harshly ruled to have been the primary offender in a needless spat with Nong and was sent off.