Athletic had the chance to climb to the top of the La Liga table on Friday night as the Lions traveled to Mallorca for their fourth match of the season. With the entire international break to prepare for the game the Basques were ready for another great performance but Gaizka Garitano warned this one would be a battle. Football is always interesting at Son Moix.
Mallorca started strong and barely let Athletic see the ball. It would take 15 minutes before the Lions began to get into the game and nearly had their first chance when Ander Capa was played into the box. The right-back was looking for his fourth assists on the season but Mallorca’s defense cleared the ball well. Athletic would soon have another chance when Raúl García headed a corner kick straight at the goalkeeper.
Although Athletic had the better chances in the first half Mallorca played well. They didn’t give up much space and always looked dangerous when going forward. Salva Sevilla nearly put the hosts on top before the break with a free kick that was saved by Unai Simón. Garitano didn’t make any chances to start the second half but it wouldn’t take long before he brought on Beñat and Aritz Aduriz for Unai López and Iñigo Córdoba. The substitutions would swing the momentum in Athletic’s favor.
Mallorca would once again have a chance to take the lead in the 55th minute when Lago Junior found himself alone with just Simón to beat but sliced his shot wide of the far post. Minutes later García would see a shot saved off the line before Mallorca brought on Takefusa Kubo who immediately energized the attack and brought Son Moix to its feet every time he touched the ball.
Salva Sevilla hit the post in the 75th minute which a nice effort from inside the box and Simón reacted well to catch the rebound. The danger wasn’t over yet, however, as Yuri Berchiche would foul Kubo in the box just five minutes later to give Mallorca a penalty. Simón guessed right but didn’t even have to make the save as the shot was sent wide of the goal as Mallorca fans gasped in disbelief.
The referee would then add 4 extra minutes which turned out to be full of action. Gaizka Larrazabal hit the post with a shot of his own and from there Athletic turned on the pressure. Muniain and Berchiche combined on the left side of the box and when hands were raised asking for a penalty VAR stepped in. After reviewing the play Athletic were awarded a penalty because of a handball.
Aritz Aduriz stepped up to take the penalty against his former club who were giving him a tribute on the night and his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. The game wasn’t over there. Kubo would win a free kick on the side of the box in the 97th minute and Mallorca were able to head the cross into the back of the net but immediately saw the offside flag raised. The referee would blow the final whistle as Simón took the free kick with the match ending as a scoreless draw. Both sides will feel as though they should have won but walk away with a fair point.