After an insipid first part, Athletic erased Villarreal during the second half, who lost the chance to get close to Barcelona and gave the third place Sevilla.
Escribá made major changes to the tactical set up. He switched from his traditional 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1. He handed Rodri his first start of the season in La Liga, along Bruno in the double pivot, enabling Manu Trigueros to play behind Sansone with Soriano and Castillejo out wide. If Escribá's strategy was to retain possession with so many midfielders, he failed miserably.
The Yellow Submarine defended well in the first part but ended up giving in the second half where the locals took possession of the ball.
The match turned into a tactical battle during the first half. Both teams studied each other. Neither team had really control of the game at that point and clear chances we’re scarce.
Enter the second half, the dynamic of the game changed completely in Bilbao’s favor. Bilbao move their lines forward with dangerous approximations. In the 60th minute Inaki Williams gave the defense a scare after dribbling past Asenjo but his shot only hit the post. Villarreal decided to sit back looking for a chance to counter-attack Bilbao.
Bilbao opened the scoring in the 66th mintute. Raúl García score after a rebound by Aritz Aduriz. Escribá decided to bring Bakambu and Pato looking for the equalizer.
Villlarreal began to take over possession of the ball, but the rojiblancos closed tightly behind. In 75, Asenjo prevented Bilbao to increase their lead with an impressive save at a close range shot Aduriz. Five minutes later, after a misunderstanding in defense again , Asenjo made another block from Aduriz.
In 81, it was Pato who tried his luck with a cross shot, but Kepa, well placed, stopped the Brazilian’s shot. Narrow defeat for Villarreal at San Mames in the end.