Iñaki Williams put Athletic one up, before Yeremy equalised for the yellows
Athletic Club drew 1-1 with Villarreal CF at the Estadio de la Cerámica on Tuesday night. Iñaki Williams gave Athletic the lead in the first half before Yeremy Pino netted an equaliser 15 minutes from the end.
It was a fair result on balance. Gaizka Garitano’s side edged the first half but were under the cosh for large spells in the second half as Unai Emery’s lads pushed for an equaliser.
Athletic are now ninth in the LaLiga Santander table and are looking upwards as they host Basque rivals Real Sociedad on New Year’s eve.
It was a non-stop match at La Cerámica, played at a relentless pace. VAR was called into action early on, as the referee overturned a penalty given to Villarreal for an Unai Simón foul on Fer Niño.
The lions had their first great chance moments later when midfielder Unai Vencedor played Williams into space, the striker took on a couple of defenders before shooting wide.
Four minutes later, in the 19th minute, Athletic went ahead. Left-back Yuri‘s pass found Iñaki Williams at full flight and the pacey striker finished under Sergio Asenjo’s legs.
Simón was tested by Rubén Peña but the keeper, who was on fine form all night, kept out the full-back. Athletic could have doubled their lead before half-time when Mikel Vesga missed with a header inside the box after getting on the end of Yuri’s cross.
After the restart, Villarreal had a couple of chances to even the scores courtesy of Fer Niño and Gerard Moreno, but they couldn’t find a way past Simón. Villarreal threw everything they had at the lions and Simón once again stopped Moreno from grabbing a goal.
In the 62nd minute Athletic came close to delivering the killer blow. Right-back Ander Capa intercepted a pass, launched a counter-attack and found Alex Berenguer in plenty of space inside the box. The winger tried to curl one into the net but Pau Torres turned the effort away with his head. Oddly enough, the referee didn’t give the lions a corner.
Meanwhile Villarreal’s young winger Yeremy Pino was making inroads down the left. He hit the post and not long after, he grabbed the equaliser with a powerful left-footed shot which Simón could do nothing to stop.
Athletic didn’t shrink and went looking for the win at a stadium in which the home side are yet to lose this season.
Raúl Albiol was centimetres away from scoring an own-goal after mishitting a Yuri cross. And in stoppage time Jon Morcillo had a pop with Asenjo off his line, but the keeper re-positioned himself quickly enough to block the effort.
Just like at Getafe and Valencia, the lions come close to getting all three points on tough awaydays. Now they get a much needed week off before facing Real Sociedad at San Mamés on December 31.