Athletic Bilbao tightened their grip on fourth place in the Spanish Liga Sunday with a 2-0 win at doomed bottom team Real Betis.

The foul luck that has followed Betis this season continued when Bilbao were given a non-existent penalty in the 35th minute, which was converted by Iker Muniain.

Betis then had defenders Damien Perquis and Lolo Reyes rather harshly sent off, allowing Bilbao to dominate with two extra men on the field.

Nine minutes from time, Markel Susaeta set up young sub Guillermo to make it 2-0 with a close-range header.

Bilbao are four points above fifth-placed Real Sociedad, who Saturday beat Barcelona 3-1.

Meanwhile, Betis are six points adrift at the bottom and surely heading for relegation.

Betis are six points below Rayo Vallecano, who crashed 1-0 at home to seventh-placed Sevilla earlier Sunday.

The only goal in Vallecas came in the 58th minute, when Sevilla defender Coke headed in a free-kick from Ivan Rakitic. Sevilla had midfielder Vicente Iborra sent off eight minutes from time but still managed to hold out for the win.

Rayo are two points below Valladolid and five below Malaga.

The latest defeat could turn out to be the final nail in the coffin for embattled Rayo coach Paco Jemez, who said: “Sevilla did not do very much today but they have taken all three points.

“I did not see them so superior to us, but they had one clear goal chance and they took it - nothing else.” Later Sunday, Atletico Madrid were due to visit Osasuna, in an attempt to stay joint top with Real Madrid. Atletico need to win in Pamplona to keep pace at the top with Real, who Saturday thrashed Elche 3-0.

Real are three points above stuttering Barcelona, who suffered their third league defeat at Real Sociedad.

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