Athletic Bilbao’s poor form didn’t continue in Europe as they managed to pick up a massive 4-2 victory over Bundesliga representative, Schalke 04 on Thursday, in a very intense match from the kick off until final whistle.
Fernando Llorente was once again the important actor for Bilbao with his brace, while wonder kid Iker Muniain along with Oscar de Marcos added the goals for the Basque based outfit to cancel two Raul Gonzales’ strikes.
The match wasn’t actually what the scoreline described as Schalke were very dominant in possession especially in the first 20 minutes where they pinned back Bilbao and created several goal scoring chances. However, against the run of play, the Basque side took the lead through Llorente who pounce on a horrible catch from Timo Hidelbrand, stunning the home team’s crowd, who obviously didn’t think their side would concede first.
The German side didn’t take long to equalize though as minutes later Raul settled the score after turning in Uchida’s cross expertly, less than a minute after Llorente gave Bilbao the lead. The former Real Madrid man even managed to double Schalke’s advantage in the second half when he looped the ball passed Gorka Iraizoz, on the visitor’s goal without any problem.
Schalke actually continue their dominance and were actually the more likely team to score but Llorente has a different script for the game as the Spain international headed in the equalizer in the 73rd minute. Playing on the counter in the last 10 minutes, Bilbao reaps its fruit as the score two goals from de Marcos and also Muniain, who sealed the deal just few minutes before the final whistle was blown, much for the disappointment of Schalke.
Mixed results were earns by other two Spain representatives, as Atletico Madrid beat Hannover 2-1, with goals from Radamel Falcao and Eduardo Salvio, which only got one reply from Mame Biram Diouf. The result isn’t actually save for Atletico considering the second leg would be placed in Germany and Hannover’s away goal could be an essential factor that blocked their passaged into the semifinal.
Meanwhile, Valencia continued their run of bad results with another defeat, this time from Az Alkmaar, who netted in twice through Brett Holman along with Maarten Martens. Luckily, El Che still managed to score a consolation goal early in the second half from Mehmet Topal, an important striker which gave some genuine hope in advancing if the Spaniard can grab a victory at Mestalla.
photo credit: FIFPro World Players’ Union