Athletic Club Bilbao 2-1 CD Nacional
Fernando Llorente's late strike sealed a comeback victory that left Athletic comfortable in second position in UEFA Europa League Group L.
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Fernando Llorente's late strike sealed a comeback victory over Portuguese team CD Nacional that left Athletic Club Bilbao a comfortable second in UEFA Europa League Group L.
Rúben Micael's first-half effort put Nacional in front as they looked to build on their one-point haul, but after the break Athletic responded and Joseba Etxeberria equalised midway through the half. Llorente then won it with four minutes remaining, moving Athletic four points above FK Austria Wien in third, with Nacional one further back ahead of the rematch in Madeira on 5 November.
A run of five matches without a win was far from ideal preparation for Athletic, and Joaquín Caparrós's side struggled to gain a foothold in the game. Nacional took advantage three minutes from the interval when, having successfully held off several challenges, Nejc Pečnik poked a pass through to Rúben Micael who wrong-footed defender Fernando Amorebieta before slotting his second goal of the group stage.
The half-time introduction of Javi Martínez and Óscar de Marcos reinvigorated Athletic. Markel Susaeta's shot across the face of goal was palmed away by goalkeeper Rafael Bracali and Llorente's header from Pablo Orbaiz's corner clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over.
With the rain teeming down at San Mamés, Athletic's Martínez gained possession on the right before racing forward and delivering a cross to the back post where Llorente connected with a header. Bracali got his hand to it but could only divert the ball into the path of Etxeberria, who tapped in the equaliser. The Spanish outfit continued to push forward and finally got their reward when Llorente held off the challenge of Nuno Pinto before sliding the ball into the net.