Friday’s Basque Derby between Athletic Club and Real Sociedad was exactly what you would expect it to be. The match had intensity, passion, drama, and goals. With the Lions playing at home in front of their own fans, not to mention their pressing style of football, Athletic went on the offensive to start the game and there was very little that their visitors could do about it.
Throughout the opening 25 minutes the game was all Athletic. The home side dominated possession and even when Real Sociedad got the ball back they weren’t able to keep it for very long. Athletic played direct attacking football and looked absolutely deadly. However, it would be a set piece that brought about the first goal of the game in dramatic fashion.
After Markel Susaeta fouled Mikel Oyarzabal a free kick was given to Real Sociedad. The ball was whipped in and Iñigo Martinez seemed to clear the the cross before making contact with Luca Sangalli who was trying to win a header. Unai Simón picked up the ball and played it forward, but soon the referee stopped play by use of VAR. After watching the replay he awarded Real Sociedad a penalty kick and booked Martinez for striking Sangalli in the head with a high boot in the box. Oyarzabal stepped up and scored the penalty to give La Real a 1-0 lead.
The San Mamés erupted in anger and the Cathedral began to roar. Athletic had dominated the game thus far but found themselves down and quickly looked to restore parity. It would only take a few seconds. Off of the restart Iker Muniain beat four defenders before the ball was played wide to Markel Susaeta. The winger put in a low cross that found its way to Muniain who was able to finish off the chance from close range to make it 1-1 in the 31st minute.
With the game back level Athletic seized the opportunity to continue attacking as Real Sociedad were pinned in their own half. The visitors did try to hit on the counter, but rarely had enough possession to string together dangerous passes. Soon the halftime whistle sounded with plenty to think about going into the break. Athletic deserved to be on top, but were not. They also had five players on yellow cards which meant that Eduardo Berizzo’s team would have to play with caution for the following 45 minutes.
Athletic came out of the break focused on taking the game to Real Sociedad, but they would make a crucial mistake. A bad pass from Yuri Berchiche turned into a La Real counter attack. Luca Sangalli rushed into the box without being picked up and was able to finish off a low cross to give the visitors a 2-1 lead and shock the San Mamés. Athletic were left with a lot of work to do.
Despite the fact that the Lions had the vast majority of possession they were not able to break down the Real Sociedad defense. Eduardo Berizzo brought on Aritz Aduriz and Ander Capa with a little over 20 minutes to go, but once again a mistake would cost them dearly. On a counter Unai Simón came out to clear the ball but ended up tripping Jon Bautista in the box. Mikel Oyarzabal stepped up and beat the keeper again to make it 3-1.
Athletic then threw everything forward in hopes of pulling goals back. Aritz Aduriz was able to find the net, but the flag came up and a hopeful San Mamés felt disappointment set in. The rest of the game saw the Lions pin their visitors in the final third, but Real Sociedad were able to defend well as the game reached its conclusion after four added minutes. Individual mistakes by Athletic led to three goals for Real Sociedad and leaves Eduardo Berizzo with a lot of work to do over the international break.