Athletic Bilbao have a foot in the next round of the Europa League after beating Slaven Belupo 3-1 in their first leg tie at San Mames.
Two goals from debutant Isma Lopez ensured Marcelo Bielsa’s men are favourites to progress in next week’s second leg tie at the 4,000-capacity Gradski Stadion.
Youngster Lopez made it a dream start to his first-team career with a goal after just 15 minutes, pouncing after goalkeeper Silvio Rodic had fumbled, but the visitors equalised just three minutes later when Mateas Delic scored at the far post.
However, the Croatians’ joy lasted a mere 60 seconds as Gaizka Toquero’s cross found the head of Lopez and he nodded down for Markel Susaeta to divert the ball into the net.
Lopez then sealed the 3-1 win on 67 minutes, once more reacting quickly to steer home after the ball had come back off a post.
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Slaven Belupo
Scorers: Lopez 15 (A), Delic 18 (S), Susaeta 19 (A), Lopez 67 (A)
Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz; Iraola, Gurpegi, Ramalho (Ekiza 46), Inigo Perez; Iturraspe, De Marcos, Toquero (Ruiz de Galarreta 62), Ibai (Llorente 46), Susaeta; Isma Lopez
Slaven Belupo: Rodic; Kokalovic, Grgic, Bubnjic, Canadija, Busic (Saban 52); Delic, Puric, Rak (Pilipovic 80); Maras, Batarelo
Referee: Boiko (Ukr)