Athletic knew what was on the line Sunday when they visited Getafe. A win would move the Lions within one point of the top four, but anything else would keep them fighting for European qualification. It was never going to be an easy game. After all, Getafe have been one of the best teams in La Liga this season. With three massive points on the line, both sides were ready for a fight.
To start the match Athletic were in complete control. Iñaki Williams nearly set up Iñigo Córdoba in the box after just 5 minutes and Ibai Gómez sent in a fine cross 8 minutes later. However, things changed when Gómez was forced to leave the match in the 15th minute after landing awkwardly on his left ankle. Markel Susaeta took his place on the field and the team’s rhythm withered.
Athletic’s best chance of the game came in the 30th minute when Williams headed a pass to Córdoba inside the box. The winger had only the keeper to beat but no time to settle and sent his shot straight into his arms. Getafe would get a chance in stoppage time but saw Iago Herrerín make a great save. The flag had been raised so any goal wouldn’t have counted anyway.
Getafe came out much stronger to start the second half and Athletic struggled to link passes together. In the 56th minute, Jaime Mata received the ball at the far left post and turned in on his right foot. It looked as though he would easily tuck a shot into the corner, but his effort skipped just wide of the post. Athletic were lucky to not be down 1-0, though the momentum was building for the hosts.
For a long stretch all Athletic could do was defend. Iñigo Martinez and Yuri Berchiche cut out several attacks but still the Lions were unable to put anything together. Kenan Kodro was brought on for Williams with 20 minutes left to play and Getafe continued to push forward. In the 78th minute the home side would finally be rewarded for their efforts when a ball was sent over the top of the defense to Ángel who easily beat Herrerín.
Gaizka Garitano responded by bringing on Aritz Aduriz who was making his return from injury. It had been 87 days since the striker last took the field, but it was too little too late. Athletic could not create anything going forward as Getafe expertly controlled the pace of play throughout the final minutes of the match. It was a disappointing loss for Athletic who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end. The Lions now sit two points off of Europe going into next weekend’s match against Rayo Vallecano at San Mamés.