Malaga sink Bilbao, Valencia hold Sevilla in Spain La Liga

AP, Sunday 24 Aug 2014

Sevilla's Grzegorz Krychowiak (L) and Valencia's Andre Gomes battle for the ball during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, August 23, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Malaga held on to beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to kick off the Spanish league on Saturday and give new coach Javi Gracia a winning debut at La Rosaleda Stadium, although the game was marred by two red cards in the final minutes.

Malaga scored in the 34th minute when Luis Alberto converted the rebound from his own missed penalty after goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz blocked his spot kick.

Roque Santa Cruz set up the winner by poaching Carlos Gurpegui's backpass and earning a foul from Iraizoz in the area.

Malaga limited Bilbao to Mikel Rico's header by the far post in the 65th and Guillermo Fernandez's header into the arms of goalie Carlos Kameni in the 87th.

That was until tempers flared near the end, when Malaga lost two players with direct red cards and gave Bilbao its best chance of the match.

Sergio "Duda" Barbosa was first sent off for shoving Bilbao's Iker Muniain to the turf in the 88th, and Vitorino Antunes compounded that error by earning his exit with a dangerous tackle to cut down Fernandez two minutes into stoppage time.

Iraizoz came forward in the final minute and thought he had grabbed an unlikely equalizer when he headed into the net, but the referee disallowed the goal because of a foul.

Bilbao host Napoli on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League playoff after they drew 1-1 in their first meeting.

In other matches, Sevilla drew 1-1 with Valencia while Granada beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-1. Later on Saturday Espanyol visit Almeria.

Barcelona host Elche on Sunday, while Atletico Madrid begins their title defence at Rayo Vallecano on Monday when Real Madrid also welcome Cordoba.

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