The Basques edged out Mallorca thanks to Aritz Aduriz's early goal. The striker trails only Messi, Falcao and Ronaldo as the league's top scorers.
Aritz Aduriz trails only Messi, Falcao and Ronaldo as the league's top scorers. Photo: EFE
Aduriz scored his team-high 10th league goal of the season in the 11th minute, perfectly targeting his header to send Andoni Iraola's long cross past goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.
The striker trails only Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao and Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo as the league's top scorers.
Mallorca, coached by former Athletic Bilbao manager Joaquin Caparros, reacted well but failed to beat inspired goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, who made five quality saves to deny forward Giovani Dos Santos and striker Tomer Hemed before halftime.
And after Victor Casadesus missed the open net from inside the area in the 53rd, Mallorca visibly wilted as its winless streak reached 11 rounds. "We needed this win," said Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa. He added, however, that his team was still not playing well. "It's tough for me to say this, but I can't call the victory a fair one. We can't ignore all the chances that Mallorca was able to create."
Athletic Bilbao, which rose to 11th place, was ousted from the Copa on Wednesday by fellow Basque club Eibar. It also failed to make it out of the group phase of the Europa League. Last season, Bilbao reached the final in both cup competitions.
Mallorca's Caparros is one of several coaches in Spain under increasing pressure to stop his team's slide down the standings.