Athletic 1-2 Sevilla
Aritz Aduriz scored his ninth of the season, but Timothée Kolodziejczak and Vicente Iborra struck to give the holders the advantage.
Article top media content
- Aritz Aduriz heads Athletic in front; Timothée Kolodziejczak and Vicente Iborra reply
- Éver Banega and Aduriz hit the woodwork in the first half
- Holders claim their first UEFA Europa League away win of the season
- See behind-the-scenes photos from the game in Bilbao
- The second leg is next Thursday, with the semi-final draw 24 hours later
A goal up through the competition's top marksman Aritz Aduriz and looking good, Athletic were pegged back by Timothée Kolodziejczak before substitute Vicente Iborra clinched a UEFA Europa League quarter-final win for the visitors.
Sevilla began the stronger in Bilbao, Kevin Gameiro and Éver Banega carving out early chances before Los Leones roared briefly, Iñaki Williams denied one-on-one by David Soria. Back came the holders, though, and Vitolo was cleverly sent clear by Michael Krohn-Dehli only for his effort to be smothered by Iago Herrerín.
Ernesto Valverde's charges rallied before the break, Aduriz heading Beñat Etxebarria's free-kick onto the post, and they got the opener soon after the restart, Aduriz stooping to nod in captain Iker Muniain's inviting centre. Yet having nearly doubled their lead via Xabier Etxeita, from another Beñat delivery, Athletic shot themselves in the foot in devastating fashion.
Muniain's header back to Herrerín fell short, inviting Banega to nip in and find defender Kolodziejczak, who clipped the ball into the net. Having knocked the stuffing out of their hosts, Unai Emery's men held their nerve before striking the killer blow. Gameiro supplied the incisive pass and there was Iborra to poke home the 83rd-minute winner.
Constantly probing the channels and stretching the Athletic back line, French international Gameiro's persistence and movement gave Sevilla a vital outlet – his hard work coming to fruition with a clever assist for Iborra's clincher.
Named captain for the day in place of Carlos Gurpegi, winger Muniain was industrious in the first period and decisive early in the second, executing a fine cross for Aduriz's 48th-minute breakthrough. Yet his evening promptly took a disastrous turn with his part in Sevilla's equaliser and, withdrawn soon after, he was spotted looking devasted on the Athletic bench.
Still on for three in a row
Winners for the past two seasons and four times in a decade, Los Sevillistas are more at home in the UEFA Europa League than in any other setting. Few would bet against them finishing the job in Andalusia next week.