MADRID- Athletic Bilbao climbed to sixth
place and a European qualification spot when goals from Javi
Martinez, Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain gave them a 3-0 win
at home to promoted Hercules in La Liga on Monday.
Martinez rose unmarked to nod powerfully into the top corner
in the fifth minute at the San Mames, Llorente finished off a
flowing move with another header in the 61st and Muniain pounced
on a defensive mistake to make it three in the 64th.
Alicante-based Hercules rarely threatened the home goal and
their best effort came midway through the first half when a
header from Paraguay striker Nelson Valdez was saved low down by
Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.
The Basque club have 32 points from 20 matches, five behind
Espanyol in fifth and two ahead of seventh-placed Atletico
Madrid, whose erratic form continued when they lost 1-0 at
struggling Sporting Gijon on Sunday.
Hercules, the only team to beat champions Barcelona this
season, are 12th on 22 points.
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