Athletic Bilbao Coach Ernesto Valverde has praised the performance of Villarreal after the 1-1 draw between the sides on Monday.
Aritz Aduriz missed a first half penalty for Athletic before Tomas Pina put the Yellow Submarine in front at El Madrigal, but Gabriel Paulista was sent off in the second half and Aduriz equalised with seven minutes to play.
The result sees Athletic move six points clear of Real Sociedad in the race for the final Champions League place.
Villarreal are sixth, seven points behind Bilbao but only one adrift of La Real.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Valverde didn’t feel his side really deserved more than a point.
“We weren’t good in the first half, then we improved, but the sending off decided the game,” he said.
“There was a lot of tension throughout the match but we gave our all, got a draw but we wanted the victory.
“The three points would have been worth a lot but we have to keep going.
“It wasn’t our best game, nor was it Villarreal’s. It was difficult. They pressed well and deserve praise.
“They have great players that can cause problems at any time. It wasn’t our best game but that’s because they played so well.”
Valverde added that in his opinion, the battle for fourth place was still wide open.
“I have no doubt Villarreal will be fighting for the Champions League at the end of the season.
“They have a great team and I’m sure they’ll finish high.
“We haven’t won anything because there are still 10 weeks left in the season. That’s a lifetime.”
Valverde was also asked for his thoughts on the refereeing of the match, but he replied with a tongue-in-cheek answer.
“From what I saw, all the fouls against Athletic were penalties and none against Villarreal were,” he joked.
“I don’t know what happened. Coaches always see everything in their team’s favour. I don’t know if the referee got it right or wrong.”