Athletic may have suffered two consecutive defeats at the hands of Real Madrid and Sevilla, but the Lions are still very much alive in the race for Europe. To finish in the top seven Athletic need to win all three of the games left on the schedule, starting with Sunday’s trip to Levante. The Basques were certainly up to the challenge.
With Yeray, Ander Capa, Yuri Berchiche, and Dani García all unavailable for the game Gaizka Garitano would field the strongest possible lineup in hopes of taking all three points. It would only take three minutes for Athletic to strike when Óscar De Marcos sent a low cross into the box. The ball fell to Raúl García who smashed a shot into the back of the net to give Athletic an early 1-0 lead.
Athletic were in complete control of the game but over time Levante began to settle into more possession. The hosts used crosses and long balls in hopes of finding an equalizer but were unable to cause any serious trouble for Athletic. In stoppage time the Zurigorri would double their lead when De Marcos once again played Raúl García through on goal and the forward chipped the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 before the break.
It looked as though Athletic would add to their lead early in the second half. Raúl García sent Iñaki Williams through on goal but the forward had his shot blocked in the box. The Basques continued to control the game as the minutes passed by, but Levante would make things interesting.
A nice attack in the 70th minute saw Enis Bardhi score to pull a goal back for Levante. The hosts then went on the offensive looking to equalize as Athletic were forced to defend for long stretches, but always seemed capable when going forward. Fatigue became more of a problem as the game progressed.
Athletic would hold strong for the rest of match, clearing crosses into the box and making timely tackles to prevent Levante from pulling level. The final whistle would come with Athletic having won 2-1 to take all three points and move up to seventh in the La Liga table. Garitano’s side will now turn their attention to Thursday’s match against Leganés where a victory would take Athletic one step closer to qualifying for Europe.