Soccer

Athletic Bilbao defeats Celta Vigo in new stadium

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The Canadian Press
9/16/2013 6:34:43 PM
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MADRID, Spain -- Goals by Mikel San Jose, Andoni Iraola and Benat Etxebarria gave Athletic Bilbao a 3-2 win over Celta Vigo at the inaugural match in its new San Mames Stadium in the Spanish league on Monday.

"This is very good news for us, apart from the three points, we had the dream of starting off in this place with a win," Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Celta striker Charles Dias silenced the 36,000 crowd when he opened the scoring against the flow of play in the 14th minute from a cross by Rafinha after rushing forward on a swift counterattack.

Mikel San Jose drew loud cheers from Athletic fans when he equalized in the 18th, beating goalkeeper Yoel Rodriguez after controlling the ball from a free kick taken by Benat Etxebarria.

Iraola scored his first goal of the season for Athletic in the 61st from a delicate back-pass by Iker Munain. Seven minutes later, Etxebarria timed his run forward to beat the offside trap, controlled the ball in the area, skilfully sidestepped a defender and calmly shot low into goal.

"It was important that the inauguration should begin on a good footing with a victory and I'm absolutely delighted," he said.

Santiago Mina pulled one back for Celta when he angled a back-header over goalkeeper Iago Herrerin's outstretched hands in the 79th.

Celta missed other opportunities. Athletic goalkeeper Iago Herrerin gave away a penalty in the 26th when he brought down Manuel "Nolito" Agudo in the area, but the forward shot over the crossbar.

Dias just missed a second in the 41st when his shot went high after having found himself alone in front of goal after a counterattack.

"I'm focusing on the match. The stadium will likely be here another 100 years, but the three points being battled for today, if lost, won't come back again," said Jose Angel Iribar, 70, who played 614 games for Athletic from 1964-1980 and was watching from the stands.

In another match, Elche was held to a 0-0 draw by visiting Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona lead the standings with 12 points from four games, while Athletic is fifth on nine points and Celta is eighth.

Andoni Iraola  (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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