Bilbao beats Malaga 3-0 with 3 goals in 4 minutes

PAUL LOGOTHETIS AP Sports Writer Published:

MADRID (AP) -- Athletic Bilbao scored three goals in four second-half minutes on Sunday to beat Malaga 3-0 in a matchup of Spanish league teams with European aspirations.

Malaga dominated the first half at the San Mames with 14 shots, but conceded in the 58th minute when Fernando Amorebieta latched on to a loose ball inside the area.

Mikel San Jose leapt over two Malaga players in the 60th to head in a corner from Gaizka Toquero, who made it 3-0 by volleying home Ander Herrera's cross-goal pass from a tight angle a minute later.

Athletic is level with fourth-place Espanyol on points for the final Champions League spot, while Malaga is two points behind them.

Also on Sunday, Ikechukwu Uche scored two goals as Granada rallied to beat 10-man Real Sociedad 4-1, Victor Casadesus' brace powered Mallorca to a 4-0 win over Villarreal and Sporting Gijon drew 1-1 against Atletico Madrid in new coach Javier Clemente's first game in charge.

Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 4-0 on Saturday to take a 13-point lead over defending champion Barcelona, which can get back to within 10 points with a win over third-place Valencia later Sunday.

Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz single-handedly kept the hosts in the contest as he stopped seven goalbound shots in the first half, including three straight chances shared by Santi Cazorla and Jose Rondon after seven minutes.

The pair of Malaga forwards combined often. Iraizoz denied Cazorla in the 37th and the Spain international sent a shot wide minutes later. Francisco "Isco" Alarcon also forced the Basque 'keeper to stay alert.

"We didn't allow any scoring chances and we created them," said Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa, whose decision to bring on Fernando Llorente for the second half also helped spark his attack. "We defended and attacked a little better in the second half."

Athletic came alive after Toquero's corner fell to San Jose, whose shot rebounded off three separate bodies to land at Amorebieta's feet for a well-taken goal.

Malaga keeper Willy Caballero tipped Iker Muniain's shot wide to set up the corner that San Jose converted to double the lead.

Herrera then dribbled free along the goal line before floating a pass to the far post to pick out Toquero, who was streaking in and impressively slid in to the push to volley home.

Bilbao joined Espanyol on 33 points, one better than Levante which looks for its first win later Sunday against Rayo Vallecano. Atletico stayed one point off the fourth-place pair after nearly spoiling Clemente's debut.

Roberto Canella redirected Adrian Lopez's cross into his own goal to give Atletico a 20th-minute lead. But Atletico then conceded for the first time in seven games as Sebastian Eguren leveled in the 37th.

Radamel Falcao had six shots on goal -- including a chance that was saved in the 83rd -- but the Atletico striker couldn't convert. Atletico coach Diego Simeone still maintained his unbeaten start, while Clemente, the former Spain coach who led Bilbao to a league-cup double 28 years ago, moved his team within six points of safety.

Mikel Gonzalez gave visiting Sociedad the lead after 10 minutes before Inigo Lopez equalized moments later at Los Carmenes stadium.

Asier Illarramendi was shown a red card for a tackle from behind on Franco Jara to leave Sociedad with 10 men to begin the second half, and Jara took advantage to score in the 57th with a neat move along the left.

Uche scored his first from a break in the 61st and his second from a similar counter in the 87th, one minute after Granada's Guilherme Siqueira handled to earn a second yellow card.

Granada's third win in four games moved it one point above Sociedad, and five points above the relegation zone.

On Monday, last-place Zaragoza plays Real Betis.