Soccer-Berenguer scores twice to help Athletic Bilbao beat Girona 3-2

Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Semi Final - First Leg - Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao - Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - February 7, 2024 Athletic Bilbao's Alex Berenguer scores their first goal from the penalty spot REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo

(Reuters) -Alex Berenguer scored twice as Athletic Bilbao brought high-flying Girona back down to earth with a 3-2 victory on Monday, a result that provided a reality check to the Catalans' lofty LaLiga title ambitions.

Girona, the season's early pacesetters, were unbeaten in 15 successive league games until their 4-0 thrashing by Real Madrid nine days ago. However, having won only one of their last five games in all competitions, they are now in danger of being overtaken by the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

After suffering their second consecutive league loss, Girona remain second in the standings with 56 points, but only two points ahead third-placed Barca and five ahead of Atletico. They trail leaders Real Madrid by six points.

Fifth-placed Athletic moved up to 49 points, two points adrift of Atletico.

Athletic dominated proceedings from the start and outplayed a rather subdued Girona.

Berenguer intercepted a pass from rival Aleix Garcia to score and give Athletic the lead in the second minute and Girona were lucky to go to the break only one goal down as the wasteful locals misfired several chances, including an absolute sitter from close-range by Inaki Williams in the seventh minute.

Athletic left the door open for Girona, and they hit back with a Viktor Tsyhankov tap in from a Ivan Martin cross that made it 1-1 in the 49th minute.

However, Berenguer put the locals back in front with another strike in the 56th minute and Williams extended their lead in similar fashion four minutes later.

Williams almost scored a fourth after another blunder by the visitors five minutes later but keeper Paulo Gazzaniga managed to make a goalline save with the tip of his boot.

Eric Garcia put Girona back in the game, netting a close-range effort from a Aleix Garcia free kick but the hosts held on to secure their seventh consecutive win at home, a result that put them in the race for a top four finish and a place in next season's Champions League.

"It's not easy to beat Girona. It's something to be proud of," Williams told DAZN.

"We are doing things well and we have to look up, that's what's important. We're going to keep dreaming and keep working because that's how you get things done."

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Football

Soccer-Alli backs Everton to finish strong amid relegation worries
Soccer-Anderson signs pre-contract to join Brazil's Palmeiras from Lazio
Soccer-Chelsea manager Pochettino fumes over penalty-taker mayhem
Soccer-Perfect Palmer hits four as Chelsea thrash woeful Everton 6-0
Soccer-Simeone wary of Dortmund's home strength ahead of Champions League return
Soccer-New U.S. manager Hayes will bring winning mentality for Paris, say players
Soccer-Santos women's coach Lima steps down after harassment allegations
Soccer-Roma's Ndicka discharged from hospital after collapsing on the pitch
Soccer-Terzic seeks Dortmund reaction in Champions League return against Atletico
Soccer-PSG will get past Barcelona in Champions League says manager Luis Enrique

Others Also Read