Bilbao Athletic’s sensation start to the season couldn’t last forever. After running away at the top of the table through the opening months, the Kumeak eventually fell back to earth. Hampered by injuries and struggling to finish chances, the team had managed just one win in the last six matches heading into Saturday’s visit to Real Sociedad for what is always one of the most difficult fixtures of the campaign.
La Real started the game strong in front of their own fans but Bilbao Athletic would start to take more control as time passed. The opening goal would eventually come in the 22nd minute and it all started with a great play from Oier Zarraga. The 20-year-old midfielder beat his defender on the right side of the box and put in a cross which found Jon Morcillo who headed the ball into the back of the net.
Celebrations were short-lived as Oihan Sancet was shown his second yellow card just moments later and was forced to leave the pitch. With a man advantage, Real Sociedad sent more players forward in attack and pinned Bilbao Athletic deep in their own half. The onslaught of possession and crosses continued well into the second half but the Kumeak held their ground and the lead.
Real Sociedad captain Ander Gorostidi was then shown a red card for a challenge on Victor San Bartolomé which leveled the playing field and gave the momentum back to the visitors. Bilbao Athletic would seal the victory in the final minutes when Victor played through Gorka Guruzeta during a counter attack. The striker calmly placed his shot into the right corner to make it 2-0 and secure the victory.
Saturday’s win not only came against a major rival, it also ended Bilbao Athletic’s winless streak and lifted the team back into the top four. In the buildup to the game Joseba Etxeberria said the players needed a big result to get things back on track and this victory could be the spark that was needed to end the year. The squad will now enjoy the Christmas break but will be back in action at Lezama on 4 January as they host Alavés.