Athletic hopes of moving closer to Europe were put on the line Wednesday as the Lions traveled to face neighbors Eibar. Having only ever lost one game at Ipurua, Athletic entered the match as favorites but knowing that anything can happen in a Basque Derby. Both sides were desperate for a win and traded control of the game back and forth.
It wouldn’t take long for Athletic to start causing problems. Just five minutes into the game Iñigo Córdoba forced a great save by the Eibar goalkeeper. Moments later a volley from outside the box struck a defender’s arm in the box and Athletic were awarded a penalty after the VAR review. Raúl García stepped up to the line and expertly finished to give Athletic an early 1-0 lead.
The Lions looked poised to take control of the game, but Eibar didn’t shrink. A bad pass in the 15th minute led to a foul just outside the box and a dangerous free kick for Eibar. Luckily, Unai Simón was able to make the save on a beautiful shot. However, the hosts wouldn’t be denied for long.
Minutes later a cross into the box was poorly cleared by Dani García. The ball fell to the opposite side of the goal where a second cross was played to the far left post. Kike García was waiting to put the ball into the back of the net and level the score. For the remainder of the first half Athletic had more possession, but struggled to create going forward. Meanwhile, Eibar looked dangerous with every counter attack.
Gaizka Garitano responded by bringing on Iñaki Williams to start the second half and the impact was immediate. The striker brought a spare to the attack, but over time Eibar began to take back control of the game. With just over ten minutes left to play the home side would be given a penalty after Dani García was caught holding the shirt of an attacker.
Eibar converted from the spot to take a 2-1 lead but Athletic answered back quickly. In the 81st minute Dani García sent a ball over the top of the defense which was volleyed home by Asier Villalibre to level the score. Six added minutes were given as both sides traded chances, but neither was able to find the winner. The match ended in a 2-2 draw which was a fair result, though both will feel as though it was a missed opportunity for more.