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Elche vs Athletic Bilbao. Spanish La Liga.

Martinez ValeroAttendance22,693.

Elche 2

  • Jonathas (32nd minute, 45th minute)

Athletic Bilbao 3

  • A Aketxe (80th minute)
  • M San José (87th minute)
  • I Williams (92nd minute)

Primera Division: Athletic Bilbao take step towards Europa League

Image: Mikel San Jose: Netted for Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao produced an incredible late turnaround to beat Elche 3-2 and take a huge step towards qualifying for the Europa League.

The Basques fell behind in the first half to two goals by Elche's player of the season Jonathas and their hopes of catching Malaga in seventh place looked doomed until Ager Aketxe pulled one back in the 80th minute. Mikel San Jose then grabbed an equaliser in the 87th minute, before Inaki Williams hit an injury-time winner.

Elche secured survival a fortnight ago so the result has little impact on their season as they remain 13th in the table - but Athletic leapfrog Malaga and have a two-point lead over Javi Gracia's side going into their final match of the season, at home to Villarreal.

Athletic's late show was even more the remarkable considering how badly they had played in the first half.

The visitors could have fallen behind as early as the seventh minute when Jonathas' cross-shot fizzed wide of the post, and midway through the half Victor Rodriguez sent the ball crashing over the bar after a cutback from Faycal Fajr.

Fran Escriba's side found the goal they deserved on 32 minutes, as Fajr played in Jonathas and the Brazilian arrowed the ball past Iago Herrerin.

Jonathas scored his and Elche's second goal on the stroke of half-time, finishing from close range after Adrian Gonzalez took a free-quick quickly, outfoxing the Athletic defence.

Elche had a penalty shout turned down early in the first half as Jonathas' shot appeared to hit the arm of Mikel Balenziaga and at the other end Aritz Aduriz was shown a yellow card for venting his fury at not being awarded a spot-kick after he was felled in the area.

Aduriz did manage to contribute to Athletic's comeback, however, playing in Aketxe on the left hand side of the area, and the midfielder powered his effort past Przemyslaw Tyton to make it 2-1.

Seven minutes later San Jose appeared on the edge of the area to volley a loose ball beyond Tyton into the far corner and just moments later the defender thought he had won the match - but his close range effort was harshly ruled out for a foul.

However, his side were able to celebrate a dramatic turnaround in injury time as Williams volleyed home, choosing a perfect time to score his first league goal for Athletic.

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