Vicente Iborra scored a late goal to give Sevilla a 2-1 comeback win over Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their all-Spanish Europa League quarter-final.
Iborra latched on to Kevin Gameiro’s pass and slid the ball into the net to give Sevilla their first away win in the Europa League this season and put one foot in the semi-finals.
The home side gained the upper hand when Aritz Aduriz scored just after half-time, but Iker Muniain’s poor defensive header allowed Sevilla a golden chance to equalise and Timothee Kolodziejczak levelled the scores.
A draw would have given Sevilla the impetus in the tie, but Iborra’s winner gave the second leg an entirely different complexion and kept the Andalusians firmly on course for their third consecutive Europa League title.
Sevilla have been beaten just once at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in 2016 and Athletic will have to become first side to win there in the Europa League this season if they are to stand any chance of progressing in the competition.
In torrential rain at San Mames, the visitors lost Benoit Tremoulinas to injury after just 10 minutes and replaced him with Tottenham loanee Federico Fazio.
A slip from the substitute almost allowed Inaki Williams to open the scoring as Athletic pressed, and the 21-year-old forward was involved in much of the hosts’ best early attacking play.
Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega hit the outside of the post with a fizzing low shot from 25 yards midway through a cagey first half, and at the other end David Soria made a good save at the feet of Williams before Iker Muniain blazed a shot over the crossbar.
Michael Krohn-Dehli split the Bilbao defence with a superb throughball only to see Vitolo denied by a great save from Iago Herrerin, before Bilbao’s leading scorer Aduriz went within inches of opening the scoring when he headed Benat’s free-kick onto the post.
Bilbao took the lead within two minutes of the restart, Aduriz evading Coke to connect with Muniains cross and score his ninth Europa League goal of the season with a powerful header.
A brilliant save by Soria kept Xabier Etxeita’s header out as the home side looked to extend their advantage but Sevilla then drew level, less than 10 minutes after they had fallen behind.
Muniain was attempting a simple header back to Herrerin but he failed to put enough power on it and the error was pounced on by Banega, who pulled it back for Kolodziejczak to slam home from close range.
Muniain cut a broken figure as he left the field having been substituted but the evening got worse for Athletic when Gameiro played in Iborra, who made no mistake with a low finish inside the box that could prove decisive in the tie.