Athletic served a triple whammy to regional rivals Real Sociedad in this afternoon's derby at Anoeta. Not only did they get one over their eternal foes in San Sebastián for the first time since the Txuri-urdinak returned to the top flight, the result prevents Eusebio's side from stretching their advantage over the Bilbaínos to 10 points, keeping their own hopes of making Europea again next season alive.
Athletic, more up for it
La Real found themselves up against two obstacles - an Athletic side who were clearly more up for it, who looked hungrier and beat their hosts to almost every ball; and then there was the weather - the fine sirimiri drizzle which San Sebastián is noted for, made for a fast, slippery playing surface and prevented the home team from controlling the game with their possession-based ethic.
Williams starts, Aduriz on the bench
In true Basque fashion, a blistering rhythm was set from the off. Valverde's team went straight for their hosts with only Munian looking a little off the pace.The Athletic coach opted to reserve Aduriz for the second half, and fielded Williams who proved a menace for both of La Real's full-backs, Odriozola and Yuri.
Athletic take the lead
Athletic were in front before the half hour. Xabi Prieto clipped Yeray inside the box and the ref pointed straight to the spot, La Real's skipper smirked at what he felt was an absurd decision but contact was made... Raúl García's thunderous spot-kick entered under Rulli leaving the Donostiarras to chase the game.
Real Sociedad started the second half with more conviction which prompted Athletic to regroup; Beñat advanced a few metres and Aduriz started warming up to come on. But just before the striker could enter, Williams pounced on a weak Odriozola pass then beat an outcoming Rulli with a delicate chip. There were chances for both sides after that - Aduriz with an overhead kick and a header from Raúl Navas which entered, but was ruled out as the ref judged the defender to have climbed on Bóveda. La Real remain fifth on 48 points, ahead of Villarreal's meeting with Celta, and and Athletic are now just four points behind...