Athletic knew what they were up against when they walked into the Estadio El Alcoraz on Monday night. Huesca were unbeaten in their last three games going into the match and desperate for more points to move closer to safety. Playing at home gave the hosts added strength which made this a very difficult encounter for Gaizka Garitano’s team. As expected, Huesca started with the momentum in front of their own fans.
Iago Herrerín was called into action just a few minutes into the match when a cross bounced off of Beñat in the box. Luckily, the keeper was able to fall on the ball on the goal line, but the danger was there. Moments later another cross set up a Huesca shot at the near post but the Ezequiel Ávila was unable to make good contact with the ball which was sent wide of the post.
The tide turned in Athletic’s favor in the 19th minute when Iñigo Martinez was dragged down in the box and the Basques were awarded a penalty. Raúl García stepped up to take the shot and sent the keeper the wrong way to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. Iñaki Williams nearly double the lead soon afterwards when he was sent in on goal by a long pass from Herrerín. The forward didn’t have time to settle the ball and was forced to blast a shot from a tough angle which was saved and resulted in a corner.
Iñaki would get another chance early in the second half when he was played through by Raúl García. The striker tried to pick out the far corner with a shot but the Huesca goalkeeper made a great save. García would then test his luck with an effort from outside the box that resulted in another strong save. It would then be Herrerín’s turn to play hero as Huesca sent more players forward to attack.
A long ball found David Ferreiro in the box which resulted in a close shot and save from Herrerín. Moments later a cross to the back post resulted in another promising opportunity for Ferreiro who was unable to put his shot on target. Christian Rivera would get the last clear chance of the game when he cut inside the box and curled a low shot to the far corner, but Herrerín was there to make the save once again.
The whistle whistle blew with Athletic having won the match 1-0 to take all three points back home to Bilbao. It was far from their best performance, but the Lions found a way to win a very difficult match on a Monday night and are now just four points off of Europe and a full seven points clear of the relegation zone. On Saturday they will have the chance to move into the top half of the table for the first time since September when they welcome Eibar to the San Mamés.