Athletic Club‘s European hopes received a major boost on Saturday after the Zurigorri eased to a 3-1 victory against Mallorca.
Mallorca will be rightly displeased with the soft penalty given to Raúl García in the 16th minute, which Rulo subsequently converted.
But Athletic generally controlled much of the game and apart from a slight wobble after Mallorca pulled a one back with a penalty in the 70th minute, Los Leones never looked in danger of losing.
Head coach Gaizka Garitano was especially pleased with the performances of striker Asier Villalibre and attacking-midfielder Oihan Sancet, both of whom scored.
In doing so, Oihan Sancet became the first player born after the year 2000 to score for Athletic Club.
“I’m very happy about the goals of Oihan Sancet and Asier Villalibre,” Garitano said in his post-match press conference.
“They are young players with a present and a future in the team, and I’m sure this will give them even more confidence.”
Athletic are now just three points off sixth placed Villarreal and the Europa League spots. The upcoming tie against fellow European football hopefuls Valencia will be crucial to the Bilbao-based side’s chances of qualification.
“We have three complicated games coming up, six left, all of them difficult,” midfielder Unai López insisted after the Mallorca match. “We know that we are playing for Europe.
“We have to go to Valencia to win, to pick up points and be in the fight for Europe.”