Cultural Durango 3-2 Bilbao Athletic: Defensive Mistakes Cost Important Points

Asier Villalibre

Asier Villalibre’s brace wasn’t enough as Bilbao Athletic fell 3-2 (MD)

Bilbao Athletic haven’t given up hope of qualifying for the promotional playoffs. They came into Saturday’s match riding a six-game unbeaten streak but knew that things wouldn’t be easy on the road against a desperate Cultural Durango side. The Katxorros have been shaky away from home this season and were looking to continue climbing the league table.

The match started well for Bilbao Athletic who took quick control of the pace of play and capitalized on a corner kick after just 13 minutes. The cross found Dani Vivian in the box who sent the ball to Asier Villalibre at the back post for the opening goal. Cultural Durango then went on the offensive and had a few chances to equalize. Villalibre also pulled an effort wide of the post which would have seen the home side double their lead.

An equalizer would finally come in the 30th minute when confusion from Javier Murúa and Vivian saw Pradera take the ball into the box with only the keeper to beat. He put his shot past Unai Etxeberria to make it 1-1 with plenty of football left to be played. Villalibre had another chance from a free kick to put the Kumeak back ahead but the effort was wide. The real story at the end of the first half was Jesús Areso who was shown a second yellow card and sent off.

Starting the second half down a man, Aritz Solabarrieta knew the rhythm of the game would change. He brought on Oihan Sancet for Asier Benito in hopes of controlling the momentum. Bilbao Athletic started strong. Iñigo Vicente beat two defenders on the left wing and nearly picked out Villalibre at the back post. It looked as though being down to 10 wouldn’t hurt the team too badly, but that wouldn’t last long.

Peru Nolaskoain sent a weak header back to the keeper in the 54th minute and Cultural Durango would take the ball and the lead. The visitors would make it 3-1 just 7 minutes later through a beautiful counterattack. With half an hour left to play Cultural were in complete control, but the Katxorros refused to give up.

Bilbao Athletic forced the goalkeeper to make three impressive saves, but Etxeberria had to stop two close shots himself. The game was wide open. Four minutes of stoppage time were added and seconds later the Katxorros would be awarded a penalty. Villalibre calmly finished from the spot, but the team wouldn’t have enough time to find the equalizer as the match ended in a disappointing 3-2 loss.

Depending on how other games go around the league this weekend, Bilbao Athletic could find themselves 10 points off of the top 4 with just 6 games remaining on the schedule. The team refuses to give up on qualifying for the promotional playoffs, but for that to happen they can’t afford to drop any more points. The Kumeak will be back at Lezama on Saturday for a massive match against 4th place Barakaldo.

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