Sevilla 2-0 Athletic Club: The European Dream Comes To An End
Athletic were playing for everything when they visited Sevilla on the final day of the La Liga season. A win or draw would secure a place in the Europa League next year, but a loss would put the Lions in danger of missing out altogether. It all came down to 90 minutes.
With so much on the line the game began slowly. Neither team looked to press high up the field or take any unnecessary risks. Possession was traded back and forth with a focus on defensive organization. As the match began to wear on, things started to change. Both sides became more physical and play started to open up. Sevilla were able to take control of the momentum, though Athletic held strong.
Chances were few and far between, but the deadlock would finally be broken in the 44th minute. Sevilla attacked down the right wing and whipped a low cross into Wissam Ben Yedder. Dani García tried to clear the ball but sent a header straight at Iago Herrerín who managed to make a spectacular save, but Ben Yedder was there to finish it up and give Sevilla a 1-0 lead going into the break.
The drama continued in the second half when Espanyol took a 1-0 lead over Real Sociedad, effectively knocking Athletic into 8th place. The Catalans would add a second and Athletic had to equalize against Sevilla to qualify for Europe. With everything on the line, the Basques pressed high up the pitch trying to create important chances. Gaizka Garitano even brought on Ibai Gómez and Aritz Aduriz in hopes of scoring.
Athletic nearly drew level in stoppage time when a corner fell to Iñigo Martinez. The defender put a shot on goal that struck the crossbar and saw Sevilla race down the field. Iago Herrerín left his line in hopes of clearing the ball back to the attack but the hosts were able to take advantage and double their lead. The final whistle sounded soon after with Athletic having lost 2-0. Garitano was able to lead the Zurigorri well out of the relegation zone, but falling just short of European qualification.