Athletic were looking to take all three points and climb into 7th place on Saturday as they walked into the Anoeta. Basque Derbies are always difficult matches and the Lions knew they were in for a battle against their bitter rival. The tempo was set early on with both sides being physical and looking to attack whenever they had the ball and it wouldn’t take long for the first goal to be put into the back of the net.
In the 16th minute Athletic had a free kick that was cleared up the field and saw Mikel Oyarzabal chasing it down with Dani García in front of him. Instead of playing the ball García tried to block of Oyarzabal who headed the ball forward and only had the keeper to beat. Iago Herrerín left his line but wasn’t able to clear the ball as he was rounded and Oyarzabal easily tapped the ball in to give Real Sociedad a 1-0 lead.
Athletic tried to get a quick equalizer and nearly had it when a ball was sent over the top of the defense to Iñigo Córdoba. The winger was able to try a header that was saved by the Real Sociedad keeper and went out for a free kick. The Lions were able to build some momentum as the match progressed but lost it all in the final five minutes when their hosts put together a few strong attacks. Just before halftime a ball was weakly cleared to Willian José who immediately turned and blasted a shot into the top corner to give Real Sociedad a deserved 2-0 lead going into the break.
Gaizka Garitano responded by bringing on Beñat and Raúl García for Mikel San José and Iñigo Córdoba and the change was felt immediately. The Lions were stronger on the ball and didn’t give up as much space when defending. Athletic would get their first chance of the second half a few minutes in when Iñaki Williams and Raúl García combined to set up Muniain for a shot outside the box. The ball skipped wide of the post but it sent a message that the Zurigorri were going to fight to get back into the game.
With just 8 minutes left to play Athletic would finally get their best chance when Iñigo Martinez was fouled in the box during a corner kick. Raúl García stepped up to take it and his shot was saved by the keeper, but the midfielder was able to clean it up to pull a goal back. From there the fight was on as Athletic continue to attack in numbers but even with three added minutes the Lions weren’t able to find the equalizer as they suffered a 2-1 loss, their first defeat under Gaizka Gairtano.
On Sunday Athletic will be back at home when they host Barcelona at the San Mamés. It will be one of the most difficult games of the season for the Zurigorri who will have to play without starting right-back Ander Capa who was shown his fifth yellow card of the season against Real Sociedad. Garitano will immediately begin preparing the team for the match with hopes of getting back to their winning ways.