Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Bilbao side made up for a poor opening weekend performance against Malaga with a convincing 3-0 win over strugglers Levante.
Artiz Aduriz, fresh from his continental exploits could perhaps have scored a hat-trick, but settled for one, with Iturraspe and Iker Muniain also finding their way onto the score sheet.
The visitors didn’t get off the best of starts, losing centre back Nikos Karabelas after a mere five minutes, as he pulled up with a hamstring injury.
Keeping out Aduriz
Bilbao’s first clear-cut chance came from Aduriz. He bagged a double against Napoli in mid-week, and the marksman nearly bagged a first league goal after only few minutes.
He rose highest to meet Balenziaga’s cross, but couldn’t get over the ball, diverting the header over Jesus Fernandez’s goal.
The 33-year-old’s second clear chance required the intervention of former Real Madrid keeper Fernandez. Set the difficult task of replacing Keylor Navas, who went in the other direction, the 26-year-old made the first of many key saves for his side.
Bilbao broke quickly, as Muniain found Oscar De Marcos out wide. He delivered a driven low cross to the feet of Aduriz, who would have had a tap in were it to for the quick movement of Fernandez, who jumped of his line to smother the ball.
It was so nearly third time lucky for the Spaniard, as he finally put the ball into the back of the net, but was denied a goal by a marginal offside call.
But there was little chance Levante would keep the big striker out for too long, and on the half our mark, he made his mark on the match.
He used his strength and height to get the better of his markers and latch onto Ibai Gomez’s corner, but this time he found the goal, with no pesky flag to deny him his moment.
It was very much the same story after the restart, but it only took 6 minutes for Bilbao to double their lead.
Again, Bilbao showed their aerial prowess, benefiting from a set piece, as Ibai Gomez, free kick found Iturraspe unmarked in area, who reaped the rewards of a free header.
Out of sight
Levante tried their best to fight back, and avoid back to back defeats after losing at home to Villarreal last week. But José Luis Mendilibar’s side seemed to lose all home once Muniain bagged a third for the hosts.
Again, the trio of Aduriz, De Marcos and Munian combined, with De Marcos feeding Aduriz. The forward’s powerful effort was stopped by Fernandez, but he couldn’t hold on, allowing the ball to bounce into the path of Munian who tapped home.
Goals: Aduriz (32), Iturraspe (51), Muniain (76)
Bookings: Simao (LEV), Barral, (LEV), Ivan (LEV), Balenziaga (ATH)
Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz, Aymeric Laporte, Mikel San José, Balenziaga, Benat (Unai López), Iturraspe, Mikel Rico (Gurpegi), Ibai Gomez (Borja Viguera), Oscar De Marcos, Artiz Aduriz, Iker Muniain
Levante: Jesús Fernandez, Nikos Karabelas (Ivan Lopez), Loukas Vyntra, David Navarro, Xumertra, Victor Camarasa, Simao, Victor Pérez (Rafael Martins), David Barral (Nabil El Zhar), José Luis Morales
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