Gaizka Garitano’s side defeat SD Eibar thanks to an Unai López brace
Athletic Club beat SD Eibar 1-2 in Ipurua courtesy of two fine strikes by central midfielder Unai López.
The lions had to show great grit and determination to come away with an important victory. It will also serve as a boost ahead of Athletic’s Thursday night homecoming versus Cádiz CF.
As expected José Luis Mendilibar’s EIbar side were as intense as always and it was no simple victory. However, for most of the game Athletic Club were the superior side, being especially incisive in the final 30 minutes.
The first big chance of the fixture came when right-back Ander Capa’s left-footed shot forced Eibar keeper Dmitrovic into an acrobatic save. Then five minutes before the break, a run by left winger Jon Morcillo led to Iñaki Williams receiving the ball in the left corner, Williams in turn played the ball back inside to López, who finished calmly. A quick VAR review followed and the goal was given the all-clear.
Before the break, Eibar showed just how dangerous they are from set-piece situations. Winger Pedro León whipped in a corner and Kike García’s header hit the back of the net. It was a deflating moment just after half-time, in the 47th minute.
However, the lions showed their strength and recovered quickly. A counter-attacking movement between Dani Garcia, striker Asier Villalibre and Williams led to the latter scoring with a decent finish. Athletic thought they were 1-2 up, but a VAR review decided Villalibre had strayed into an offside position in the build-up play.
Nevertheless, Athletic continued to believe. Attacking-midfielder Raul Garcia was denied by a fine save and in the 87th minute the decisive moment of the match came.
Capa charged down the right flank before sending a low cross into the box, hero of the day López popped up yet again to send the ball past Dmitrovic with a deft finish.
VAR yet again put everyone on tenterhooks, as an incident involving Raúl García before the goal was reviewed. Fortunately, nothing came off it. For the final period, the lions defended tooth and nail to protect their lead and substitute Iñigo Córdoba almost grabbed a cheeky third in the dying moments.
All in all, an essential victory in Athletic’s second LaLiga Santander 2020-21 showing.