Ernesto Valverde admitted that his Athletic Bilbao players were outfoxed by Espanyol’s ‘craft and intensity’ on Monday night.
Week 5’s final fixture saw the Basque Country outfit defeated 3-2, despite Oscar de Marcos’ late first-half equaliser, with Ibai Gomez providing a late consolation.
“We lacked the craft that Espanyol had, they made use of every metre and have been more intense than us at the beginning of each half,” Valverde reflected post-match.
“The first half we responded, but the second half things changed. So the game became much easier for them.
“We had tightened a lot. Neither they nor us, were expecting that there would be a difference of two goals on the scoreboard.”
Athletic did have an early penalty appeal for Diego Colotto’s apparent handball in the area turned down.
“If they blow for a clear penalty, all the better. But I do not like to talk about these things, the referee has to do his job.”