Gritty Granada stuns Bilbao on the road
Promoted Granada served further notice their Primera Division stay may not be as short-lived as initially looked likely as they claimed a hugely impressive away win over in-form Athletic Bilbao.
Inigo Lopez struck the only goal of the game as Granada, who suffered a miserable start in their first top flight campaign in 35 years, continued their recent improvement with a victory that lifts them out of the relegation zone.
The Andalusian side have now picked up seven points from their last three games – having previously only earned five points from their opening nine matches – and they might have been in an even better position if last weekend’s game against Real Mallorca had not been abandoned just after the hour mark when they were leading 2-1.
That remainder of that match, which was postponed after a linesman was struck in the face by an umbrella from the crowd, will be played behind closed doors at Granada’s Los Carmenes stadium next month.
Granada’s two Primera Division wins prior to today had come against Villarreal and Sevilla so the promoted side had already shown they could bloody the noses of the big sides in La Liga.
However, Athletic had come into the match on the back of an 11-match unbeaten run domestically and in the Europa League, and knowing a victory today would have seen them move level with fifth-placed Malaga.
The home side twice threatened early on at San Mames through Markel Susaeta and Fernando Llorente, but it was Granada who broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.
Jorge Carlos Martins swung over a corner from the right and centre-back Lopez climbed highest in the centre to send a glancing header past Gorka Iraizoz and just inside the far post.
That proved to be the match winner as Lopez and his fellow defenders kept Athletic at bay for the remainder of the match to earn their side three points.
The home side struggled to create chances, but Athletic substitute David Lopez almost levelled the scores in the 71st minute when his free-kick was tipped onto the woodwork by Granada goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez.
Markel Susaeta, Igor Gabilondo and Muniain then sent further efforts wide as Athletic sought in vain for an equaliser, with Susaeta missing their final chance late on.