Aritz Aduriz had a mixed but ultimately rewarding night as Athletic Bilbao stayed ahead of the game in the chase for the fourth UEFA Champions League spot. The veteran striker missed a first-half penalty but recovered to score a second-period equaliser as his men drew 1-1 at Villarreal.
The point puts Bilbao six points clear of Real Sociedad in the race for the final spot in Europe’s premier competition, while it keeps Villarreal – for whom Tomas Pina opened the scoring – seven behind them.
It took until the 23rd minute for their to be an effort at goal, with Villarreal’s Oliver Torres barely working Gorka Iraizoz from the edge of the box. The goalkeeper was able to repel a Giovani Dos Santos free-kick with some ease too, before Bilbao stirred, with Carlos Gurpegi guilty putting a free header wide.
Paulista was pinged for a handball as Ander Herrera swung in a cross and a penalty was given. Aduriz could not make hay, though, and saw his spot-kick saved by Sergio Asenjo. Relieved by their let-off and energised by the break, the home side were ahead a minute into the second half. Torres put the ball in from the right and Pina was on the spot to convert from close range.
Mikel Rico led the visitors’ response with a low effort which skipped just wide, and Bilbao were given further cause for optimism when Paulista saw red for a second bookable offence – a foul on Aduriz – with 25 minutes to go. They had good reason to look forward too as, with seven minutes left, Aduriz made amends for his penalty miss as he got to an Ander Iturraspe cross first to level. Aymeric Laporte tried to win it for Bilbao after that but his shot sailed wide.