Mallorca halt Bilbao charge
Athletic Bilbao missed the chance to close to within four points of fourth-placed Villarreal and the Champions League spots after seeing their winning streak ended by Real Mallorca.
Athletic had charged up to fifth in the Primera Division after winning six of their last eight matches - including each of their last four - and would have been desperate to take advantage of Villarreal's shock loss to Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend. However, Joaquin Caparros' men were left empty-handed on the Balearic Island after going down to an early Pierre Webo goal.
Mallorca had taken just one point from their previous four matches, but tonight's win lifts Michael Laudrup's men level with seventh-placed Getafe and two other teams - Sevilla and Real Sociedad - on 31 points. Mallorca had suffered a surprise 4-0 mauling at the hands of lowly Sporting Gijon in their last home match, but they looked determined to avoid a repeat this evening with an impressive start against their in-form opponents.
Gonzalo Castro missed a great chance to put Mallorca ahead early on when he fired wide with just Gorka Iraizoz to beat. The hosts need not have worried by that miss, though, as they were ahead with only 11 minutes on the clock when Webo, who was back in the starting line-up after missing the draw with Osasuna through suspension, netted his fifth goal of the season.
The powerful Cameroon forward showed quick reactions to divert Emilio Nsue's cross past Gorka Iraizoz at his near post. Webo had a half-chance to put Mallorca 2-0 up just before the break but he was unable to put the rebound in after Iraizoz had spilled a shot from Michael Pereira.
Athletic pushed hard for an equaliser after the break, but could find no way through a Mallorca backline that had only kept one clean sheet in their previous 10 league and cup games. Andoni Iraola had one of Athletic's better chances but he mis-hit his attempted shot from 10 yards out. The Basque side were then denied a last-gasp leveller when Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate did superbly to block Urka Vera's point-blank header.