Athletic Club 0-0 Eibar: Basque Derby Disappointment
Last weekend’s defeat to Real Betis made Athletic angry. The players spoke all week about their desire to respond with a big win over Eibar in the Basque Derby, but the match proved much more difficult than expected. In the end, there was nothing to separate the two sides who shared a point after a dismal match at San Mamés.
Athletic began the game by attacking down the wings, but Eibar’s high press made things difficult. The Lions were unable to string several passes together while the visitors were content to settle for long shots and crosses. After the 20 minute mark the Zurigorri began to control possession better. Space opened up around the Eibar box, though Athletic were unable to create any real chances in front of goal.
Iñaki Williams was nearly off to the races in the 36th minute when a ball was launched over the top of the Eibar back line. The forward beat everyone to the ball but defenders recovered quickly and there was nothing Williams could do while isolated so far ahead of the rest of his teammates. Little by little Athletic found more space around the box and were nearly rewarded before halftime.
Playing into stoppage time, Iñigo Córdoba sent a beautiful pass to Raúl García who was waiting at the top of the box. Rulo moved the ball onto his left foot and fired a shot at goal that was saved but fell to Córdoba who quickly put the rebound into the back of the net. San Mamés was ready to erupt but the offside flag was raised. The first half came to a close with the game still scoreless and Athletic needing to raise the intensity and energy to take control at home.
Gaizka Garitano brought on Ibai Gómez for Iñigo Córdoba to start the second half and, although it began much like the second, the Lions would soon pin Eibar deep in their own half. Athletic were still unable to create scoring chances but that all changed when Asier Villalibre replaced Unai López at the hour mark. Bringing Raúl García back into the midfield made an immediate impact.
Williams nearly set up Gómez for the opening goal in the 65th minute with a ball into the box. Gómez turned past a defender but saw his shot miraculously saved by the goalkeeper. Moments later Ander Capa would put a sublime cross into the box which Gómez put into the back of the net, although replay showed it to be an own goal for Eibar. As San Mamés roared VAR intervened and called the goal back for offside.
Other than Mikel San José having a shot blocked in the final minutes Athletic were unable to get another promising chance in front of goal. The final whistle sounded with the game ending in a scoreless draw which was a disappointing result considering how much better the Lions performed in the second half. Athletic will now turn their attention to Tuesday’s Copa del Rey match against Intercity before traveling to Real Madrid and Sevilla for league games.