The Basque Derby is always a special match, but Friday’s meeting between Athletic and Real Sociedad had added flair. With the Lions having not beaten their rivals in nearly 2 years Iñaki Williams and others essentially demanded a win at San Mamés. Nothing else would be acceptable and Athletic came into the Derby ready for a war.
Williams’s statements earlier in the week had clearly lit a fire at Athletic. The Lions came out full of intensity and it wouldn’t take long for that to yield results. Just 11 minutes into the game Ander Capa provided yet another great assists as he set up Williams for the opening goal. San Mamés roared as the Zurigorri took complete control but Real Sociedad looked to respond quickly.
The visitors would be awarded a penalty in the 20th minute when Iñigo Córdoba took down Joseba Zaldua. However, the play was reviewed by VAR which ruled that the Real Sociedad defender was fouled outside the box. Athletic cleared the resulting free kick and immediately took back the momentum.
As the match began to open up, Raúl García would bring the fans to their feet in the 28th minute when he chipped a shot from outside the box to the far corner. The goalkeeper managed to get a hand to the ball but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the back of the net. Athletic’s 2-0 lead had the Lions running wild and Yeray nearly added a third from a corner kick before the break.
The second half picked up where the first 45 minutes had left off. La Real tried to attack more and enjoyed more possession, but the Athletic defense held strong. Dani García and Iñigo Martinez both made big tackles to stop chances before Iker Muniain nearly set up Williams for another goal. The striker’s shot would be wide of the goal.
Once again, Real Sociedad looked to get back into the game in the 62nd minute but were denied. Unai Simón and Martinez collided on a cross which allowed Isak to head the ball into the back of the net. This play would also go to review which ruled that the striker was offside. Gaizka Garitano refused to relax with a two-goal lead and eventually brought on Beñat, Ibai Gómez, and Aritz Aduriz looking for more.
In the final minutes Athletic managed to force two turnovers which should have at least led to shots on goal. Unfortunately, the Lions tried to do too much with the ball and failed to test the keeper. After seven minutes of added time La Real had one more chance on the left side of the box which was saved by Simón followed by the final whistle. Athletic’s 2-0 win brings the Zurigorri to 7 points on the season and in great spirits heading into the international break.