Athletic were well aware that Sunday’s match against Levante would be a fight. With both clubs level on points and within striking distance of the top six, only a win would be an acceptable result and the Lions were determined to send the visitors home empty-handed. From the opening whistle Athletic were in dominant form, though it would take the full 90 minutes to determine the result.
The opening 10 minutes were a statement from the Basques who pinned Levante back in their own half. Iñaki Williams was electric down the right wing and nearly set up Iker Muniain for an early goal but the captain had his volley saved by Aitor Fernández. It wouldn’t be the only time the Lezama product would come up big against his former club.
Moments later the ball would fall to Yuri Berchiche in the box. The left-back managed to put a shot on goal with a running header but, once again, Fernández was there to deny the effort. It was then Unai López’s turn to try his luck as the midfielder blasted a shot from outside the box which saw Fernández made another impressive diving save.
Iñaki Williams and Iker Muniain were a constant threat going forward but the opening goal continued to prove elusive. At the half-hour mark Raúl García had a shot inside the box which was saved by the Levante goalkeeper and left the Athletic players in disbelief. It looked as though the first half would end scoreless, but Levante had others plans as they managed to score from a corner kick in the 45th minute and silence San Mamés.
Athletic were full of confidence after the break. The Lions had been by far the better side in the first 45 minutes and knew that they would have opportunities to get back into the game. Unai Simón was forced to make a brilliant save early in the second half, but from there Athletic quickly took control of the game once again.
The answer would finally come in the 57th minute. Ander Capa sent a cross to the far post where Muniain beat Fernández with a header to level the score. San Mamés roared again but the Basques knew they still had a lot of work to do to complete the comeback. Athletic became relentless in attack with Raúl García and Mikel San José both missing the target with headers in the box while Dani García had a long shot tipped over the crossbar.
No matter how many times they were denied, Athletic continued to attack and would finally be rewarded in the 88th minute. Levante cleared a corner kick which fell to Ander Capa outside the box. The right-back chose to volley the ball back at goal and watched as his shot tucked inside the far post and rippled the back of the net. With one of the best goals of the season Capa had completed the 2-1 comeback at San Mamés.
Athletic’s win over Levante saw the Lions climb all the way to 6th in the table with 20 points. The Zurigorri are in a fantastic position heading into the international break and will have the next two weeks to prepare for their trip to El Sadar where they will face Osasuna in a Basque Derby. Sunday’s victory was a massive result and a statement that the Lions are very much in the race for Europe.