Osasuna 1-2 Athletic Club: Lions Break El Sadar
One streak had to end on Sunday when Athletic traveled to Pamplona. Osasuna had gone 31 straight games without a loss at home entering the match, but the Lions had won their last three trips to El Sadar. Both sides fully understood the magnitude of this Basque Derby and there was an exciting intensity from the opening whistle until the very last kick of the ball.
Osasuna came out with energy and an impressive press that made things difficult for Athletic. However, the Zurigorri eventually found ways to beat it and started to take the ball forward. After just 8 minutes Raúl García would put the ball in the back of the net but the flag was up. A VAR review upheld the offside decision though the replay showed it could have gone either way.
The goal may not have stood but it gave Athletic the push needed to really take control of the game. Oihan Sancet, who was making his first start, played with confidence and was instrumental in the final third with sublime passing. Athletic’s relentlessness would be rewarded after 20 minutes when one of those Sancet passes found Iñaki Williams running into the box. The striker tucked his shot in the far corner to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Just minutes later Sancet nearly set up Williams for another goal with a ball over the top of the defense. However, the goalkeeper was able to get to it just before Williams had the chance to chip the ball into the back of the net. Osasuna never called off their press which left plenty of space for Athletic to utilize, though the hosts looked dangerous every time they won the ball back.
Athletic had another opportunity to put a shot on goal in the 37th minute but Osasuna managed to intercept the ball in the box. Los Rojillos then sped forward with numbers and scored, but the flag was up. Several Athletic players had failed to track back after turning the ball over which could have been a changing point in the match had Osasuna’s goal not been offside.
The final 10 minutes of the first half saw Osasuna dominate possession and chances. Unai Simón was forced to make two incredible saves to keep the home side scoreless going into the break. Raúl García was in pain as the teams left the field and was taken off to start the second half with Kenan Kodro taking his place.
Osasuna continued to push for an equalizer and took command of the game very quickly. Los Rojillos nearly equalized in the 56th minute with a ball into the box but saw the shot pushed over the crossbar. The onslaught continued and Gaizka Garitano would soon bring on Mikel San José to help control the pace of play. However, the home side wouldn’t be denied forever.
With just 15 minutes left to play Osasuna would find their goal. A cross was tipped by Marc Cardona and fell to Chimy Ávila who poked the ball past Simón to level the score. Just when it seemed as though Osasuna’s unbeaten streak would continue, and perhaps they could even get the winner, a familiar face spoiled the party.
San José would head the ball over the top of the defense in the 79th minute which fell to Iñigo Lekue. The winger tried to tip the ball around a defender but it fell to Kenan Kodro who settled and put the ball into the back of the net to restore Athletic’s lead. Osasuna tried to rescue a point in the remaining minutes but were unable to do so as the game ended in a 2-1 win for Athletic.
It was a very special night for several players, but two reached important milestones. Iñaki Williams played his 133rd consecutive game in La Liga, a club record, while Mikel San José make his 300th league appearance. The victory would see Athletic move into 5th place in the La Liga table with the chance to climb even higher next Sunday when they host Granada at San Mamés.