Athletic Club 2-0 Atlético Madrid: Substitutes Steal The Show At San Mamés
Atlético Madrid began the game with patient possession, looking to find holes in the Athletic defense. As has been the case under Garitano, the Lions were extremely well organized and did well to win back the ball regularly. After just 10 minutes the Basques had their first promising offensive sequence with Ibai Gómez and Iñaki Williams both having the ball inside the box but were unable to get a shot on target.
Both sides traded possession and were strengthened by solid defensive stands. A few times Atlético would try to send players through inside the box which was dealt with beautifully. Twice Iago Herrerín left his line to claim the ball and other times Yeray made impressive tackles inside the area. For the most part, it was actually Athletic who were creating the most danger going forward.
Yuri Berchiche, playing almost as the left-winger, was able to pick out a few promising passes in the box with Raúl García and Mikel San José both having efforts blocked. Ibai Gómez had the best chance of the game in the 34th minute when he volleyed a dipping shot on goal that forced Jan Oblak to make a stunning save. The halftime whistle sounded with the game still scoreless and Atheltic certainly felt as though they could make something happen after the break against a visibly tired Atlético side.
Once again Atlético took control to start the half. They pinned Athletic in their own third and showed more creativity. The Lions did well to handle crosses and through balls, but struggled at times to put passes together. At the hour mark the Basques began to get back into the game a counter-attack saw Iñaki Williams put a blistering shot on goal which was saved by Oblak.
There was a bit of drama when Alvaro Morata fell down in the box. Replay showed that he collided with Mikel San José’s foot while attempted a shot and it was reviewed by VAR. Ultimately no penalty was given and the energy switched back into Athletic’s favor. Garitano saw an opportunity to take advantage of the momentum and brought on Iñigo Córdoba for Iker Muniain in the 71st minute. It would prove to be decisive.
In the 73rd minute Athletic won the ball in the midfield and quickly attacked. Raúl García found Córdoba on the left wing and he sent a low cross to the far post where Iñaki was able to finish into the empty net. San Mamés exploded and Atlético knew they needed to commit more players forward to get back into the game. That would prove to be the deciding factor.
Kenan Kodro was brought on for Raúl García in the 85th minute and would score just seconds later. Ibai Gómez played the striker into the box and his shot struck the defender and fell into the back of the net to double the lead for the Lions. There was nothing Atlético could do in the final minutes as Athletic won 2-0 in front of a roaring San Mamés. It was the first victory against Atlético since 2013 and the three points saw the Zurigorri climb to 9th in the La Liga table.