Barcelona 1-1 Athletic Club: Lions Earn Valuable Point At The Camp Nou
Coming off of a disappointing loss to Villarreal, Athletic Club were eager to put on a good display against Barcelona on Saturday. The Camp Nou may be a formidable stadium, but the Lions were unafraid and looked to put their game plan into effect from the opening whistle. Despite having far less possession the Basques did enjoy the first few chances of the match.
After just ten minutes Iñaki Williams was running on goal. At the top of the box, with defenders on his back, the striker tried to curl a shot into the top corner but the effort sailed just high. Minutes later he was played through again and was able to round the goalkeeper. However, the Barcelona defense forced him out wide before he could direct a shot on the empty net.
Barcelona responded by finding Luis Suarez alone in the box from close range. The Uruguayan turned to shoot but Unai Simón was there to make a brilliant save. Minutes later the 21-year-old would make another impressive kick save against the post when the hosts attacked down the right wing. Athletic turned up the pressure and would finally be rewarded.
A loss ball found Markel Susaeta on the left wing with a lot of space. The captain saw Oscar De Marcos timing a run at the back post and Susaeta lifted a cross to the right-back who volleyed a shot into the back of the net to give Athletic the 1-0 lead. Just minutes late Philipe Coutinho had a free header in the box but once again Simón was able to come up with a solid save to keep Barcelona off the score sheet in the first half.
Close to the hour mark Lionel Messi entered the game and gave Barcelona an immediate boost. He had a free kick cleared off the line by Mikel San José and a shot that hit the post. Meanwhile, Athletic continued to find their chances when able to win the ball back. Twice Iñaki Williams was played through and tried to use his speed to create. Unfortunately, Nelson Semedo was able to race back and stop the attack before Iñaki could double the lead.
With only five minutes left Messi would be the difference maker. He cut inside the box and blasted a shot at goal. Simón was able to get his hand to the shot but the ball fell back to Messi who played a low cross to Munir which led to the tying goal. At that point Barcelona tried to find the late winner, but Athletic’s defense held strong. Athletic also weren’t afraid to push forward but neither side was able to score a second. The final whistle sounded after three added minutes with the Basques having earned a valuable point at the Camp Nou and will now turn their attention to Friday’s Basque Derby against Real Sociedad at the San Mamés.