Athletic Club defeated Eibar 1-0 on Monday night thanks to a stoppage time goal from Raul Garcia. Eibar was the better side for the bulk of the game and made things hard for the Lions, but it only took one moment of brilliance to steal three points at Ipurua. Following the dramatic finish, Ernesto Valverde spoke to the press and was quick to praise Eibar for their season and amazing performance.
“Eibar is having an amazing season and in this game they showed why. They came out with intensity and pressure. They made things difficult for us but the red card changed things. For us, the expulsion was clear, but it was a good game from both sides. At the end of the first half we were closer to our own goal than we were to their goal, although we had options to go forward with space and speed. Neither team any real chances, but Inui and Pedro Leon were dangerous. Eibar has had an extraordinary season, even if many haven’t seen them. The match was intense and there was a lot of pressure. We could not get the ball out of our field, not because we didn’t try, but because they did not let us.”
Valverde highlighted the fact that his team had trouble getting the ball out of their own half and said that they were lucky to score the late winner. He said that his side’s poor performance had more to do with Eibar’s terrific game than anything else.
“In the second half the beginning was much of the same, but we eventually opened it up. It’s true that Escalante’s expulsion was decisive. Muniain and Raul Garcia had chances, but we struggled to finish. We had the fortune to score at the very end because we never game up, but if you watched the game it should have ended 0-0. It was a deserved draw. We are in a decisive moment of the season and we cannot afford to fail. Every point is worth more than the ones before. Now there isn’t very much room for error.”
Monday’s victory saw Athletic move to within one point of Villarreal for 5th place in the La Liga table. The Lions will be back in action on Thursday when they host Real Betis at the San Mames. Valverde’s side has only lost twice at home all season and will be looking to continue that run against a surging Betis team.