Athletic Bilbao vs Rayo Vallecano. Spanish La Liga.
Sunday 22 February 2015 18:25, UK
Aritz Aduriz netted a late winner as Athletic Bilbao edged a 1-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano at San Mames on Sunday.
The visitors had numerous chances to take the lead in the first half, but Bilbao came out on top after dominating the majority of the second half as they returned to winning ways.
The three points see Ernesto Valverde's men move up two spots to 12th in the Primera Division, while their opponents drop down a place to 14th with four defeats from their last five La Liga matches.
The hosts came close with two chances in quick succession at the start of the first half.
The first saw Aduriz's header safely collected by Rayo goalkeeper Tono before teenage midfielder Unai Lopez's shot from 12 yards out sailed wide of a post.
Moments later, down at the other end, on-loan Chelsea winger Gael Kakuta tried his luck with a long-range strike which he fired wide of the Bilbao goal.
With 10 minutes gone, home stopper Gorka Iraizoz was called into action to hold out two attempts by Kakuta as Vallecano pressed to break the deadlock.
The 23-year-old Frenchman took a free-kick just outside the box - after Leo Baptistao was fouled by Mikel San Jose - which Iraizoz managed to tip the ball around the post, before holding Katuta's inswinging corner out seconds later.
Midway through the first half Aymeric Laporte could have handed the home side the lead had Tono not saved his header from the edge of the box.
Markel Susaeta tested the visiting keeper with a close corner as the half wore on before Mikel Rico's headed over the bar for Athletic.
The visitors started the second half strongest - despite losing Tono to injury to be replaced by Cristian Alvarez - and could have taken the lead just one minute in had Mohammed Fatau's close-range shot been on target.
Tito blocked Aduriz's header, while at the other end, Jorge Morcillo fired a long-range thunderbolt wide in an attempt to break the deadlock.
The hosts began to dominate possession and Rico came close to opening the scoring as he just missed the right-hand post, before Laporte fired over the crossbar.
Inaki Williams, who joined the action for Valverde's men after 64 minutes, almost had the hosts ahead quarter of an hour later but Alvarez was well-placed to block his goalbound effort.
Just as the match that looked to be heading for a stalemate, Aduriz fired Bilbao in front after 85 minutes as he picked up Mikel Balenziaga's header six yards out and made no mistake as he slotted into the bottom left of Alvarez's goal for his 14th goal of the season.