Valencia held by Bilbao
Last Updated: 06/10/13 10:34pm
Banega: Scored a penalty
Valencia were denied a fourth straight league win as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.
Ever Banega had given Miroslav Djukic's the lead at the end of the first half, but Mikel Rico cancelled it out with 14 minutes remaining.
The result means Athletic remain sixth in the Primera Division, one place above Valencia thanks to a superior goal difference, with both teams on 13 points.
Athletic's first-choice striker Aritz Aduriz began the match on the bench after suffering a minor injury during the week, and with Kike Sola also out, Oscar de Marcos was employed as the centre-forward, a role unfamiliar to him.
Enric Saborit made his first appearance in six weeks, coming in at left-back, meaning Aymeric Laporte was able to play at his usual position in the centre of defence, with Mikel San Jose left on the bench.
Valencia also began the game without their usual focal point in attack, Helder Postiga, so 20-year-old academy graduate Paco Alcacer made his first league appearance of the season.
It was De Marcos who had the first two attempts on goal, cutting across the box but shooting several feet wide of the left hand post for his first effort, and then heading a cross from Markel Susaeta straight at Valencia stopper Vicente Guaita.
Valencia took longer to get into the game but became more confident as the minutes went by. Their first proper attempt was created by Jonas, who beat two defenders on the edge of the area before shooting towards the top corner, but Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was able to palm it out for a corner.
Benat Etxebarria later sent the ball high over the bar after smart work from Ander Herrera had opened up the Valencia defence.
The visitors were awarded a penalty just before half-time, when Sofiane Feghouli entered the box and fell to the ground after being blocked by Laporte.
Banega coolly slotted the spot-kick into the top right-hand corner to open his account for the season.
Jonas gave Athletic another scare in the first minute of the second half, running through the midfield and letting fly from 25 yards, but his effort went straight at Iraizoz, who gathered comfortably.
The goalkeeper had to make a better save from the Brazilian 10 minutes later, and Antonio Barragan should have made Saborit pay for a misplaced back pass shortly afterwards, but lifted the ball over the bar.
Athletic had gone off the boil after the break but then got back into the game in the final half hour. First Iker Muniain hit the post after he was played in by substitute Aduriz, and then the equaliser arrived.
Susaeta sent a ball high into the area from the left-hand side and De Marcos headed it towards the far post, where Rico was waiting to tap in his first goal for the club.
Roared on by the home fans, Athletic went for the winner, but despite their pressure were unable to find it, the best chance falling to captain Carlos Gurpegi, who was presented with a free-header but could only direct it straight at Guaita.
At the other end, Postiga, who replaced Alcacer with 18 minutes remaining, headed over the bar, and in injury time Guaita prevented Athletic from having one final shot by punching clear a deep cross from De Marcos.
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