San Mamés roared as rain fell in Bilbao on Sunday night. With the international break finally over, the Lions returned to the pitch looking to put an end to their three game winless streak. The Basques hosted Real Valladolid, who hadn’t won at the Cathedral since 2003, and were in dominant form from the opening whistle.
The Pucela barely touched the ball in the opening 10 minutes and most of those touches were clearances. Athletic controlled the midfield and pace of play which led to several chances early on. Iñaki Williams’s cross found Iñigo Córdoba just two minutes in, but the winger was unable to direct his header on goal. Minutes later Yeray put a header wide of the post from a great free kick.
Raúl García nearly opened up the scoring in the 15th minute from a blistering counter attack. Iker Muniain ran past two defenders and squared the ball to García, but the goalkeeper made an amazing save to keep the game scoreless. Just when it looked like Athletic had the visitors pinned back, Valladolid nearly silenced San Mamés.
A bad touch from Yeray saw Enes Unal in on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. Unai Simón immediately left his line and was able to make a terrific save to deny the Pucela and bring the fans to their feet. That one play seemed to have breathed life into the Real Valladolid players who started to find their composure. However, Iñaki Williams would soon steal the momentum.
Unai López played a ball over the top of the defense in the 32nd minute and Williams was off to the races. The striker outran two defenders and cut into the box before settling the ball which sent a defender the wrong way. Williams then calmly put his shot past the goalkeeper to give Athletic a deserved 1-0 lead as San Mamés roared even louder. The Lions had played a fantastic first half, but 45 minutes of football remained before three points could be claimed.
The Lions continued to dominate play in the second half but chances were few and far between. Once again, Valladolid slowly began to get into the game and would eventually be rewarded in the 71st minute. Simón tried to parry away a cross but send the ball off of Iñigo Martinez and into the back of the net. San Mamés was stunned as the score was leveled with less than 20 minutes until the final whistle.
Gaizka Garitano responded by bringing on Aritz Aduriz and Gaizka Larrazabal which saw the Basques attack in numbers. However, Real Valladolid did well to deal with the onslaught of crosses and Jordi Masip made a huge save to deny Iker Muniain on a counter attack. The final whistle sounded with the match ending 1-1 and Athletic having lost two valuable points.