While most of the attention on Sunday went elsewhere, the best match happened at the San Mames in Bilbao, where Real Betis won an incredible thriller 5-3, beating Athletic in one of the craziest matches in quite some time, in the La Liga or anywhere else in Europe.
Both clubs hardly made changes from last season, although Bilbao did play with Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente (among others missing), with the two on the verge of making a move to bigger clubs, probably Bayern Munich and Juventus respectively, while another one of their young stars, Iker Muniain, wasn’t on the pitch.
Betis, strengthened by Brazilian Paulao, entered the season with the the exact same squad and manager, Pepe Mel. The start was quite shocking. Bilbao created most of the chances and retained most of the possession, but Betis players were simply calm and calculated in front of goal whenever presented with the chance. First it was Ruben Castro, the club’s top scorer from the last two seasons, followed by Jorge Molina and the man of the match, Beñat Etxebarria, who was an Athletic Bilbao player during his teenage days.
Down 0-3 at half time, Bielsea threw in Ibai Gomez and Aritz Aduriz and was repaid immediately as Oscar de Marcos opened the gates in the 47th minute. Mikel San Jose of all people scored the second and the equalizer, both off of Ibai’s corners to complete an incredible comeback with 14 minutes left.
As with many other comebacks, that pretty much took out everything from Bilbao’s players. Four minutes later it was Pozuelo who gave Betis the lead once more, only six minutes after coming off the bench. Bilbao had no ammunition left to answer with, and Jorge Molina grabbed the brace by finishing the match with a fantastic chip over Iraizoz to cap off the thriller at the San Mames.