Iñaki Williams' decisive goal earns Athletic all three points after a dominant performance
Athletic Club beat Villarreal CF 1-0 at San Mamés, an important victory against a rival for a European spot. Iñaki Williams sealed the win when a fantastic pass by Raúl García saw the striker go one-on-one with Gerónimo Rulli. It was just rewards for Los Leones, who were all over the visitors in the second half.
With two games to go until the World Cup break, Athletic are sitting tight in a European place. However, mathematics aside, it was the way Los Rojiblancos went about their business which was most pleasing.
Ernesto Valverde's side struggled to cope with Villarreal early on, but an early injury to Giovanni Lo Celso saw the Yellow Submarine loosen their grip on the game. From this point onwards, Athletic gradually began to run the show and were very much on the ascent as half-time was called.
Los Leones were fully back to their best after the restart. Raúl, who partnered Oihan Sancet and Mikel Vesga in midfield, fired a shot at Rulli's legs after stealing the ball from Pau Torres in the box.
Unai Simón was sharp when needed, keeping out shots from Arnaut Danjuma and Alberto Moreno. At the other end, Rulli was doing a good job of frustrating the Lions, denying Iñaki Williams. But there was nothing the Argentinian could do to prevent Iñaki making it 1-0.
Los Leones kept up the onslaught as they searched for a second. Raúl went close and then so did Sancet. Athletic's best move came in the 72nd minute, but Unai Vencedor's shot went straight down the middle.
The last great chance saw Nico Williams fire high and wide with his left. but by this point San Mamés and Athletic knew victory was already in the bag. Villarreal kept looking for inroads but Los Rojiblancos' defence and press simply smothered them out.
Now it is time to celebrate the win, recover and and go for the win against Girona side that just drew with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu.