With the La Liga season set to kick off in just two weeks Athletic faced their strongest opposition of the summer so far in West Ham. The Lions traveled to London Stadium on Saturday for the BetWay Cup with Gaizka Garitano looking to test his team in a serious match. Playing in front of a crowd of 38,000 the Basques would have an electric start to the game.
Just one minute in Unai López would open the scoring. The midfielder had taken a corner kick that fell back to him on the left-wing. López sent in another cross that rebounded off a defender and skipped past the goalkeeper. With the lead in hand, Athletic began to press with a high line and made West Ham very uncomfortable trying to go forward.
Iñaki Williams would add a second goal 15 minutes later through a great series of passes. Iker Muniain and Iñigo Córdoba combined on the right-wing before Muniain slid a pass across the face of the goal. Williams was there to tap the ball into the back of the net from close range to double the lead. Athletic looked to be taking control of the game, but West Ham had other plans.
The hosts began to turn up the pressure and soon pinned Athletic deep in their own half. As the Lions struggled to string passes together West Ham enjoyed a volley of chances. The English side would pull a goal back in the 21st minute when an overhead kick found Lanzini nearly standing on the goal line. Iago Herrerín was able to get a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out of the back of the net.
West Ham would then equalize one minute later when Jack Wilshire blasted a shot into the bottom corner from just inside the box. The hosts continued to control the game as Athletic worked diligently to clear dangerous crosses. As the first half wore on the Basques were able to calm things down and looked much stronger after the break when Unai Simón replaced Iago Herrerín in goal.
Ten minutes in Simón would be called on to make two quick saves to keep the score level. Athletic would then go on the attack with Yuri Berchiche running into the box and dragging a promising shot just wide of the far post. Garitano would soon bring on Oihan Sancet and Ibai Gómez which saw the Lions take more control of the game and start to put together more opportunities.
Nearing the final whistle, Yeray would have to leave the game with a shoulder injury. The defender made a wonderful sliding tackle but stayed down in clear pain. He would be replaced by Dani Vivian while Aritz Aduriz, Beñat, and Oscar De Marcos all came on as well. West Ham would have two free headers in the box during the final minutes but both were put wide and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The game then went to a penalty shootout to decide a winner. Aritz Aduriz scored the first and Unai Simón saved a shot by Chicharito. Beñat would easily beat the keeper, Ibai Gómez hit the post, and Oihan Sancet calmly scored a Panenka. With West Ham sending a shot over the crossbar Yuri Berchiche stepped up and blasted a shot into the top corner to win the game. Athletic celebrated with the fans who came to London Stadium and a few players even gave away their shirts. After posing with the BetWay Cup the Lions went back to the locker room to prepare for the trip back to Bilbao with another friendly against Racing coming up on Sunday.