Athletic Club played their ninth game of the La Liga season on Wednesday in what was a rescheduled match from back in late September. The Lions trailed to Vallecas to take on Rayo and were hoping to get their season back on the right track. Eduardo Berizzo opted for a very similar lineup to the match three days prior and there wasn’t much a change in performance early on.
Both sides traded possession and chances, but neither looked capable of taking control. That all changed around the 20 minute mark when Raúl de Tomás received the ball on a corner and blasted a shot from outside the box that beat Iago Herrerín. The home side were ahead, but the referee quickly motioned that the goal would be reviewed. VAR confirmed that the striker had touched the ball with his hand and the goal was annulled.
Luck appeared to be on Athletic’s side, but it wouldn’t last long. Minutes later José Pozo would also get a chance from outside the box that beat Herrerín and this time the goal stood. Rayo were leading 1-0 and the Athletic players looked around in disbelief. There rest of the first half saw the Lions trying to create something going forward while Rayo patiently waited for their chances.
The second half began with Iñaki Williams coming off for Raúl García who immediately gave Athletic a needed jolt of energy. In the first few minutes Rulo, as he is affectionately known, had two headers in the box that forced Rayo’s keeper to make diving saves. Athletic then began to enjoy the large majority of possession and slowly started to take control of the match.
Iker Muniain would finally restore parity for Athletic in the 66th minute in a rather unorthodox way. A loose ball found Raúl García who tried to head the ball at goal. Meanwhile, Iker Muniain fell down in the box and just so happened to be in position of where the ball landed. While still on the ground, the midfielder was able to stick out a foot and direct the ball into the open net. The score was level and Athletic went on the offense.
Despite being able to create a few more half chances, Athletic were not able to find the elusive winning goal. At the same time, Rayo struggled to have much of the ball although they did have a few moments of danger. The final whistle came with Athletic having earned a single point and the Basques have now gone eight straight games without a victory. Seeing the team mount a solid comeback in the second half was definitely a good thing, but Athletic needed much more from this match and will now turn their attention to Saturday’s game against Valencia at the San Mamés.