MADRID: Gorka Guruzeta and Nico Williams scored second-half goals to give Athletic Bilbao a 2-0 home win over Atletico Madrid, lifting the Basque side up the LaLiga table to two points from the Champions League spots.

Unbeaten at home since losing to Real Madrid in their season opener in August, Ernesto Valverde’s team dominated proceedings but were often frustrated by inspired Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who made several fine saves to keep his side in the game.

Nico and his brother Inaki Williams put on a show at a sold-out San Mames stadium. They were constantly menacing their rivals’ defence and both hit the post in the first half.

The locals wasted a golden opportunity in the 34th minute when Ohian Sancet missed from the penalty spot after Nico Williams was fouled inside the box.

Diego Simeone’s Atletico looked distracted and far from the relentless side that breezed past Lazio 2-0 on Wednesday to secure top spot in Champions League Group E, the first time since 2016 that they have reached the knockouts as group winners.

Pressured by a confident Bilbao team that came into the match unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions, they held out until the 51st minute when Inaki Williams made a brilliant individual play to set up the opening goal.

He dribbled past three rivals, passing to Ander Herrera who lifted a perfect cross to Guruzeta at the far post for the striker to tap the ball into the net.

Nico Williams secured the points with an outstanding strike into the top corner 13 minutes later. Pressured by two defenders on the right side of the box, the 21-year-old Spain winger cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable curling shot into the net.

Later Valencia fought back to snatch a 1-1 draw at home against Barcelona to keep the pressure on Xavi Hernandez’s side, winless in their last three games in all competitions.

Barcelona looked nervy and erratic despite dominating the ball, having travelled to Valencia in the wake of two defeats in four days – a 4-2 home loss to LaLiga leaders and local rivals Girona on Sunday followed by Wednesday’s 3-2 Champions League defeat at Group H bottom side Antwerp.

But Barca hit an all but impenetrable wall in Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, who made a string of outstanding saves to keep the visitors at bay.

Striker Robert Lewandowski was often frustrated up front, sometimes by Mamardashvili, who made two brilliant reflex saves point-blank to deny the Polish striker, but also by his own play, misfiring three times from close range in the first half.

Valencia held out as well as they could with Barcelona on top after the break, with the Georgian goalkeeper making another incredible save one-on-one against substitute Ferran Torres.

Joao Felix finally broke the deadlock in the 55th minute with a close-range strike, tapping in from a Raphinha cross.

However, Valencia made the most of the chance that came their way and equalised 15 minutes later with a brilliant curling shot from the edge of the box by Hugo Guillamon into the top left corner.

########