Athletic Club 1-2 Sevilla: VAR Strikes Again
Athletic’s chances of qualifying for Europe were on the line Thursday night when they Lions welcomes Sevilla at San Mamés. The last nine visits all ended in victories for Athletic, but that meant very little with both sides having plenty to play for. In the end, the game would once again finish overshadowed by controversy.
Sevilla started strong and put Athletic under immense pressure. The Basques struggled to even put a few passes together but after weathering the storm for 20 minutes Athletic began to take control. At the half hour mark the hosts would strike first. A long shot from Mikel Vesga deflected off of a defender and fell to Ander Capa who smashed the ball into the top corner to give Athletic an early 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the first half Athletic continue to push for a second goal. Iker Muniain nearly doubled the lead before the break when the ball fell to him in the box, but the captain wasn’t able to make clean contact and pushed his shot wide. The game opened up more in the final 45 minutes with both sides trading chances.
Unai Simón would be called on to make a few big saves in the second half but could do nothing when Éver Banega perfectly placed a free kick in the 70th minute to pull Sevilla level. Just minutes later Banega would deliver a cross to Munir who headed the ball into the back of the net to put the visitors ahead.
Drama ensued in the 85th minute when Athletic were given a corner kick. During the play Iñigo Martinez was clearly dragged down in the box while trying to run away from his defender. The referee didn’t see the play and, unbelievably, VAR never called for the foul to be reviewed. Sevilla would close out the game with a 2-1 win, but once again the story of the game was Athletic being denied penalty in the final moments.