MADRID (AP) — Martin Braithwaite didn’t have to go far to start showing his worth again in Spain.

Making his debut with Espanyol after leaving city rival Barcelona, the Denmark forward came through with his team’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league on Sunday.

It was Espanyol’s first victory of the season, and Braithwaite’s first goal in more than a year, since a league game with Barcelona against Real Sociedad in August 2021. He had appeared in only four matches with the Catalan club since then, the last in March.

Braithwaite was among the players Barcelona let go from its squad in the transfer window to make more salary cap room for its new signings, including Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha.

The 31-year-old forward scored with a low shot from inside the area after getting past two defenders in a breakaway in the 83rd minute at Athletic’s San Mamés Stadium.

Braithwaite’s move to Espanyol should help him secure a spot in Denmark’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Advertising

Espanyol was coming off consecutive home losses to Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano after opening with a draw at Celta Vigo.

“We finally got the reward that had escaped us in the first matches,” Espanyol coach Diego Martínez said.

Athletic was unbeaten and seeking a third consecutive victory. The Basque Country team was yet to concede while scoring five times.

Athletic striker Iñaki Williams, who was born in Spain but is set to play the World Cup for Ghana, recovered from a leg injury to make his league-record 237 consecutive appearance.

VILLARREAL NEAR TOP

Unai Emery’s Villarreal stayed unbeaten in the league with a 4-0 rout against winless Elche at home.

Gerard Moreno, Giovani Lo Celso, Francis Coquelin and José Luis Morales scored to give the hosts their third win in four league matches.

Advertising

Emery’s team has outscored opponents 9-0, with its only setback a draw at Getafe last weekend.

VALENCIA ROUT

Valencia ended a two-game losing streak with a 5-1 rout of Getafe at home.

The team coached by Gennaro Gattuso had early goals from Toni Lato, Samuel Lino and Samuel Castillejo, while Nico González and Hugo Duro added to the lead after halftime.

Yunus Musah had a pair of assists, with U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter on hand to watch.

Getafe, second-to-last in the standings, has conceded 11 goals in its first four matches, scoring twice.

OSASUNA ROLLS

Osasuna recovered from a loss at Real Betis by defeating Rayo Vallecano 2-1 at home for its third victory in four matches.

Advertising

Aimar Oroz and Rubén García scored second-half goals for the hosts, while Rayo got on the board through Florian Lejeune with his team already trailing by two goals.

It was the second loss in a row for Rayo after it won at Espanyol and drew against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in its opener.

Defending champion Madrid beat Betis 2-1 at home on Saturday to become the only team with four victories to start the season. Betis was the only other team with three wins from three matches.

Also Saturday, Barcelona defeated Sevilla 3-0 in Seville for its third victory in a row, while Atlético Madrid was held to a 1-1 draw at Sociedad.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni