Read how it all unfolded in our minute-by minute live commentary below.
Hello and welcome to Sports Mole’s live coverage of the game between Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano. It promises to be an interesting match, and you can follow all the action live here with our minute-by-minute text commentary.
Heading into the match, hosts Bilbao find themselves 14th place in the league table, having picked up just 21 points from 18 matches. Marcelo Bielsa's side are just six points above the relegation zone.
On the other hand, Rayo are seventh in La Liga and are just two points off the final European spot. They have won their last three games.
Team news coming up shortly...
ATHLETIC BILBAO: Iraizoz; Amorebieta, De Marcos, Iraola, Ekiza; San Jose, Gomez, Susaeta, Herrera; Muniain, Aduriz
On paper, Bilbao should win this contest especially as they are playing at home. But Rayo have been in brilliant form of late and they will head into the game as the favourites. Kickoff at San Mames is at 8.30 pm.
However, Rayo coach Paco Jemez has warned his players to keep their feet on the ground: “We did what we had to do, which was create chances, and if we had been successful then we could have scored more goals. But I think we can do better and there are still things that can be improved. I admit it is hard to play like we did in the first 30 minutes all the time, but the team has room for improvement and we have to make demands."
Bilbao have lost their last two games and are struggling for goals. But Bielsa remains confident: “What we want is to win and for that to attack, but we will not defend badly so as to attack. The problems we have against Levante [last weekend] were caused by ourselves. The opponent attacked us five times and scored three goals. I’m not concerned that Aduriz is scoring most of the team’s goals [11 of the 22 in the league]. To have a striker who scores goals should never be a cause for concern. In this case, we should not be reliant on him, though, it is a collective responsibility. We should score more and concede less.”
Ten minutes to kickoff at San Mames. The intensity is building up as we approach our Friday night game in La Liga.
The players are getting ready to come out of the tunnel and onto the pitch. Just five minutes until proceedings kick off at San Mames in the Liga game between Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano.
The game kicks off at San Mames...
CHANCE! The visitors create a good chance here! Lass receives the ball after some good work by Roberto Trashorras, but his shot from the left side of the box goes wide.
CHANCE! Aritz Aduriz goes close for the home side! Ibai Gomez does some good work and sets him up inside the area, but Ruben makes a good save.
CHANCE! Another chance for Rayo, this time Piti forcing Gorka Iraizoz into making a good save.
The game has become more even now, as the two sides are cancelling out each other.
YELLOW CARD: Oscar De Marcos becomes the second player tonight to get into the referee’s books, as he brings down Roberto Trashorras.
CHANCE! The visitors go close yet again, as Piti tries his luck from outside the box. However, Iraizoz makes a good save.
CHANCE! Now Bilbao try to break the deadlock, as Markel Susaeta goes for a long-range effort that goes just wide.
We have played 25 minutes at San Mames. It is still goalless between the two teams. It has been a good match so far, but it has yet to fully kick into top gear.
Half an hour gone, and we have yet to see a goal in this game.
YELLOW CARD: Jordi Amat now goes into the referee’s book. He is the third player to be shown the yellow card this evening.
Ander Herrera finds himself with the ball after a corner reaches to him, but his shot from outside the Rayo box is wide of the mark.
Whatever Bilbao can do, Rayo can do better. Or so they think, as Lass tries to find the target from outside the box only to shoot out.
OFF THE POST! Bilbao go so so close to taking the lead! Andoni Iraola whips in a cross that Ibai Gomez heads towards the Rayo goal only to see his effort come off the post.
Five minutes to half time at San Mames. It is still goalless between Bilbao and Rayo.
HALF-TIME: Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Rayo Vallecano
It is half time at San Mames, and it is goalless between Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano. It was an interesting first half to the match, with both teams having chances to break the deadlock. However, both sides were largely restricted to efforts from long range.
It was Ibai Gómez who came closest to scoring tonight when his header from close range came off the post in the 37th minute.
Second-half action will begin in a matter of minutes. It will be interesting to see the sides’ approach in the opening minutes of the half.
The two sets of players are now out on the pitch, as the second half will begin shortly. Goalless it ended at the break between Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano. I believe that Rayo have made a change at the break. More on that in a moment...
The second half kicks off at San Mames...
SUBSTITUTION: Jordi Figueras replaced Jordi Amat at the start of the second half for Rayo.
GOAL! Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Rayo Vallecano (Lass)
Rayo Vallecano go ahead at San Mames in the opening minutes of the second half. It was actually the first chance of this half - Roberto Trashorras floats in a long ball from the midfield that Lass collects with ease and smashes home from close range.
SUBSTITUTION: Bielsa makes an immediate change in response to that goal. Carlos Gurpegi comes on in place of Fernando Amorebieta.
CHANCE! Brilliant save there from Gorka Iraizoz! Bilbao are once again caught off-guard at the back, as Leo finds time and space to take a shot from outside the penalty area. However, Iraizoz makes a good save to stave off the danger.
Rayo are in control of this match now, as Leo once again puts the Bilbao defenders into a fix down the right. Remember the Madrid club are seeking their fourth win in a row tonight.
Ten minutes gone in the second half, and Bilbao are trailing Rayo 1-0. Bielsa’s side have yet to make any sort of effort on their visitors’ goal. I have actually caught a glimpse of striker Fernando Llorente on the touchlines. He should be coming on soon.
Casado now gets into the action as he collects a ball down the left and shoots on the Basque goal from a narrow angle. However, he can only hit the side-netting.
Yes, Llorente will come on very soon. Bielsa is whispering last-minute instructions into his ears. Can he change the course of the game tonight?
SUBSTITUTION: Fernando Llorente comes on for Iker Muniaín, who is not happy at all and looks frustrated as he takes his place on the Bilbao bench.
YELLOW CARD: Casado is cautioned for his challenge on Markel Susaeta.
CHANCE! Aritz Aduriz goes agonisingly close for Bilbao on the hour mark! He finds himself with the ball outside the Rayo penalty area and takes a quick snapshot only to be denied by a smart save by Ruben. Bilbao earn a corner but fail to create anything productive from that. The way he received the ball was superb!
YELLOW CARD: The referee brings out the yellow card, this time Mikel San Jose going into the books for a challenge on Alejandro Domínguez.
PENALTY! The referee awards a penalty to Rayo as he believes that Carlos Gurpegi brought down Alejandro Domínguez inside the Bilbao area.
YELLOW CARD! Gurpegi goes into the referee’s book, as his teammates protest in vain.
GOAL! Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Rayo Vallecano (Piti)
Easy goal for Piti, who makes no mistake from converting the penalty as Iraizoz is left stranded between the Bilbao posts. It’s game over for the Basque giants, it seems, as Rayo are now 2-0 up at San Mames.
However, Rayo will feel aggrieved by that penalty decision, as it appeared that the challenge was made just outside the Bilbao penalty box.
Twenty minutes to full time at San Mames. Rayo Vallecano lead Athletic Bilbao 2-0, as Domínguez shoots just wide from outside the box. The home side are deflated and appear to have given up.
YELLOW CARD! Ander Herrera is shown the yellow card for Bilbao for protesting. I am not sure what he is protesting about, his shot was well saved by Ruben.
Fifteen minutes to full time. There are no signs whatsoever that Bilbao will be able to stage a comeback.
YELLOW CARD! Alejandro Dominguez is shown the yellow card for Rayo.
GOAL! Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Rayo Vallecano (Mikel San Jose)
Wait, the comeback could be on at San Mames, as Bilbao halve the deficit with just over 10 minutes to play. Ruben punches the ball away nicely from a set piece, but only as far as Markel Susaeta, who then puts the ball back into the Rayo penalty area for Mikel San Jose to turn it home from close range. Game on!
CHANCE! Oh, Rayo reply almost immediately! Roberto Trashorras finds himself with the ball inside the area but at a difficult angle. Yet he still takes the shot. However, it is turned away for a corner that does not yield anything for the Madrid side.
CHANCE! Good ball from Oscar De Marcos who plays Fernando Llorente in nicely, and the Spanish striker takes a good attempt on the Rayo goal only to be denied by Ruben. It is getting very intense at San Mames.
Bilbao throwing themselves forward now, this time De Marcos trying his luck from inside the Rayo penalty box but in vain.
MISS! Fernando Llorente!!! Oh, what a chance that is! Ibai Gomez floats in a brilliant free kick from the left that Llorente heads towards the Rayo goal. However, it goes just wide of the post, literally inches wide.
Just three minutes left in this game. At one stage it appeared that Bilbao were down and out, but they are very much in this game. Llorente has given them an edge since coming on and has gone close to scoring twice.
RED CARD! Alejandro Galvez is sent off! The Rayo Vallecano defender is shown his second yellow card of the game for a handball offence. The visitors are now down to 10 men.
SUBSTITUTION: Adrian comes on for Piti for Rayo.
Five minutes of injury time have been awarded in this game. Five minutes for Bilbao to steal a point at home, five minutes for 10-man Rayo to hold on to what would be a deserved victory.
CHANCE! Brilliant save from Ruben again! Ibai Gomez floats in another great free kick that Ander Herrera heads towards goal, but only as far as the safe pair of hands of the Rayo goalkeeper.
SUBSTITUTION: Change for Bilbao in the final minutes of the match. Gaizka Toquero comes on for Aritz Aduriz.
Oh, Susaeta tries to volley home from close range on the turn, but it goes wide of the top right corner. The home side have played their best football of the match in the last 15 minutes, but are heading for a defeat.
FULL-TIME: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Rayo Vallecano
It is all over at San Mames as Athletic Bilbao have slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Rayo Vallecano in La Liga. Lass broke the deadlock just three minutes into the second half and then Piti converted a controversial spot kick on 65 minutes. Mikel San Jose halved the deficit for the Basque giants on 77 minutes, but it proved to be too little, too late even though Rayo defender Alejandro Galvez was sent off in the final minutes of the contest.
I hope that you enjoyed our live coverage of the match here on Sports Mole. Have a good night. It's goodbye from me for now.