Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Slovan Bratislava: Susaeta nets second half winner as Basque outfit secure top spot in Group F

Daniel Quinton-Navarro
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Slovan Bratislava: Susaeta nets second half winner as Basque outfit secure top spot in Group F

Athletic Bilbao guaranteed top spot in Europa League Group F following a 2-1 win at San Mames against Slovan Bratislava.

The home side seemingly kick-started a comfortable evening in the 15th minute when Oscar de Marcos put Athletic ahead with a well-taken goal. However, Slovan Bratislava's travelling fans were in a frenzy when Filip Sebo expertly rolled home the equaliser five minutes prior to the break.

Marcelo Bielsa's side was pushed hard by the Slovakian outfit but the Basque's superiority told when Markel Susaeta netted his third goal of the competition after 75 minutes.

Athletic had the better of the early stages showing neat touches in pursuit of the opening goal, which came inside a quarter-of-an-hour.

Ander Herrera's cross was partially blocked after he had latched onto a pass in behind Bratislava's defence with de Marcos arriving late to gleefully put the home side ahead. The Basque showed their continued supremacy as the match progressed but Gorka Iraizoz was fortunate not to be picking the ball out of his own net when Juraj Halenar struck a free-kick against the frame of the goal.

And Slovan Bratislava stunned the home crowd, soon after, when they leveled in the 39th minute.

Marko Millinkovic's lobbed pass forward found Sebo who touched the ball past an onrushing Iraizoz before rolling the ball calmly into an empty net with the angle forever diminishing.

The Corgon Liga Champions defended resolutely against the Iker Munian led attacks in the opening exchanges of the second-half denying the Basque on numerous occasions. Marcelo Bielsa's side began to assert its authority on the match as Athletic camped deep inside its opponents half for the final 20 minutes in pursuit of the winning goal.

It came 15 minutes from time when Susaeta peeled away from his marker to direct a wonderful header back across goal which crept inside the far post.

Athletic was denied a third goal two minutes from time in comical fashion when de Marcos tapped home only to be flagged offside despite clearly being onside.

The Spanish side next faces Paris St. Germain in the Europa League in the French capital with the cash-rich Ligue 1 outfit still unsure of a place in the final 32.

Slovan Bratislava, meanwhile, face Red Bull Salzburg with the Austrian outfit needing a win to give them the best possible chance of qualifying from Group F.