Williams sets Liga record for successive games in Bilbao win
BILBAO, Spain (AP) — Athletic Bilbao forward Raúl García scored to make amends for a squandered penalty and lead a 1-0 win over Alavés on a record-setting night for teammate Iñaki Williams.
Williams set a Spanish league record with his 203rd consecutive appearance by playing Friday’s match at San Mamés Stadium. The Bilbao striker has not missed a league match for any reason since April 2016. The prior mark of 202 straight league games was held by former Real Sociedad player Juan Larrañaga.
García had a spot kick saved by Alavés goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco in the ninth minute after a long video review that spotted a handball by Ximo Navarro.
Pacheco kept Alavés alive against a dominant Bilbao by saving shots by Iker Muniain and Williams on the half-hour mark.
But the goalie could do little to stop García from heading in Iñigo Lekue’s poorly defended cross a minute before halftime. Williams drew in two defenders, leaving García free to nod home Lekue’s long ball to the far post.
Bilbao jumped into sixth place with the victory, just ahead of Barcelona, before the rest of the round this weekend.
Alavés stayed in the relegation zone after its sixth defeat in seven games. It arrived to the match hoping to build on its shock 1-0 win over defending champion Atlético Madrid in the last round, but it generated far too little in attack to dispute the Basque Country derby with Bilbao.
On Saturday, Barcelona visits Atlético with coach Ronaldo Koeman under extreme pressure following two embarrassing defeats in the Champions League. Leader Real Madrid visits promoted Espanyol on Sunday.
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