Ernesto Valverde hailed Athletic Bilbao’s “incredible heart” as Sunday’s 1-0 win at Malaga moved them up to fifth in La Liga.
Raul Garcia’s lone strike early in the second half made it back-to-back wins for Athletic, who were eliminated from the Europa League at the quarter-final stage on penalties just three days prior, prompting Valverde to praise his team for digging deep a second time.
“We’re fifth and we came into the match on the back of an exhausting tie,” the Coach said after the game.
“This victory is achieved because the team have incredible heart. It was a tight, difficult and tough game. Malaga caused problems for us, but our goal unbalanced the game.
“We’re a team who exceed expectations. We like to turn around [bad] situations. Everybody expected that we’d suffer from the defeat [to Sevilla].
“We’re used to losing games. When you’re faced a setback like [Thursday’s], you have to recover, and what the fans value is how you react to a defeat.
“[On refereeing], I saw everything from an Athletic perspective, and the Malaga Coach will have seen it the other way around. It was a hotly-contested game.
“The challenge is to stay fifth. We’ve yet to host Celta and Sevilla, and we hope to conclude a remarkable season.”