Alavés 2-1 Athletic Club: Late Dagger Downs Athletic At Mendizorrotza

Inaki Williams Alaves

Iñaki Williams had an early header saved off the line (AC)

Athletic played a third straight Basque Derby on Sunday as the team traveled to Mendizorrotza. Having gone nine straight league games without a victory the Lions were desperate for a good results but knew that Alavés would be a formidable opponent. As expected, the match was physical and would ultimately be decided by a set piece in the final moments.

Both sides traded possession to start the game. Alavés looked slightly more dangerous in the final third but Athletic’s back line dealt with passes and crosses well. The first real chance would come just six minutes into the game when Iñaki Williams had a header from a corner kick. The forward was waiting at the far post but somehow the goalkeeper was able to make a miraculous save.

Ten minutes later the Lions would finally strike from a brilliant set piece. Mikel Vesga laid the ball off for Iker Muniain who then played Yuri Berchiche down the left wing. Berchiche whipped a low cross to the top of the box where Vesga whiffed on an attempt but the ball fell to Raúl García who smashed a left-footed shot inside the far post to give Athletic an early 1-0 lead.

The advantage wouldn’t last long. In the 27th minute Alavés had a dangerous counter attack which eventually ended with Yeray taking down a player inside the box. Lucas Pérez stepped up to the line and converted the penalty to equalize. Athletic enjoyed more of the ball throughout the remainder of the first half, winning a number of corners and set pieces, but the two sides would go into the break with the score still level.

Throughout the second half neither team was able to take control. There were countless stoppages and no much of a rhythm. In the end, a set piece would decide the match as Alavés scored in stoppage time to make it 2-1 and take all three points. The loss extended Athletic’s winless streak to 10 straight games and the Lions will have a chance to end the run in next weekend’s match against Villarreal. However, Gaizka Garitano is likely to rest key players ahead of the following Cup semifinal second leg against Granada.

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