Etxeberria ends unbeaten run
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The game was played in treacherous conditions, with continual rain ensuring a scrappy spectacle.
It was Bilbao who adapted better however, and the hosts moved ahead on 18 minutes when former Sociedad man Etxeberria steered in Tiko's right-flank free-kick from ten yards.
Francisco Yeste almost doubled the lead for Jupp Heynckes' men, but saw a shot cannon to safety after striking a post.
Yugoslav hit-man Darko Kovacevic was Sociedad's main threat, and had a couple of decent penalty appeals turned down, before missing his side's best chance five minutes after the break.
Bilbao sealed victory 16 minutes from time when Spanish international Etxeberria hammered home left-footed from 18 yards after some poor defending from Igor Jauregi.
Real's misery was compounded in the final five minutes when first Turkish star Nihat Kahveci saw a straight red-card for a rash late challenge, and then substitute Santiago Esquerro added a third for Bilbao following fine Etxeberria cross.
Despite the defeat, Raynald Denoueix's troops remain four points clear of their nearest challengers, Real Madrid, at the head of the Primera table.
Vicente Del Bosque's charges staged a spirited second-half fightback to claim a point at lowly Espanyol, but will be unhappy not to have taken all three points as they bid to catch leaders Real Sociedad.
Real seemed to be suffering a hangover from their midweek Cup battering by Mallorca as they fell two goals behind before the interval.
Former Barcelona midfielder Roger Garcia opened the scoring for Espanyol on 40 minutes, and striker Raul Tamudo added a second for the Catalan outfit on the stroke of half-time.
However, Real were revitalised in the second period, and started their comeback on the hour mark when Brazilian superstar Roberto Carlos struck.
It was left to Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo (pictured) to claim a share of the spoils, although Espanyol were made to hang on for the final ten minutes after they had Alex Fernandez sent off for a second bookable offence.
Deportivo La Coruna revived their slender title chances with a 2-0 win over Real Betis, a result that effectively ends the Seville outfit`s hopes of lifting La Liga.
Betis went into the game a point above Depor in fourth place, but were no match for their Galician opponents.
Diego Tristan and Roy Makaay have not had many opportunities to play together this term, but they proved what a good partnership they are as they grabbed the goals that sunk Betis.
Both players scored contrasting headers, Tristan glancing home a Sergio cross and Makaay powering his effort into the net.
A late goal from Mista was enough to keep Valencia in the title hunt, as they beat Mallorca 1-0.
Valladolid came from a goal down to pile more misery on struggling Racing Santander.
Goals by Jose Chema and Fernando Sales cancelled out an early strike from Pedro Munitis.
Josico`s goal on the half-hour gave Villarreal a 1-0 win over Osasuna.
Sevilla went some way to easing their relegation worries with a 1-0 win at European-chasing Celta Vigo, with Francisco Casquero scoring the vital goal 15 minutes from time.
Struggling Rayo Vallecano grafted out a 1-1 draw at Alaves, despite playing for the last 30 minutes with ten men.
Roberto Peragon gave Rayo an early lead, but they lost Jorge Azkoitia to a red card on the hour and Alaves eventually found a leveller through Antonio Karmona.
Basement club Recreativo Huelva`s plight worsened on Sunday, as they were thumped 4-0 at Malaga.
Julio Dely Valdes grabbed a brace of goals, with the other two strikes coming from Romero and Garcia Gerardo.
La Liga match stats:
Athletic Bilbao 3-0 Real Sociedad
CD Alaves 1-1 Rayo Vallecano
Celta Vigo 0-1 Sevilla
Espanyol 2-2 Real Madrid
Malaga 4-0 Recreativo Huelva
Osasuna 0-1 Villarreal
Real Betis 0-2 D Coruna
Valencia 1-0 Mallorca
Valladolid 2-1 Racing Santander
Click here for updated Primera table