Athletic deserved at least a point against Real Madrid but lost 3-1 after playing with ten men for 75 minutes
Athletic Club fell to a 3-1 loss against Real Madrid in what was the lions’ first ever match at the Estadio Di Stéfano. It was a riveting affair marked by Raúl García’s early sending off after he received a second yellow in the 15th minute
The lions were able to bounce back after Toni Kroos scored for Real Madrid just before half-time, with Ander Capa getting an equaliser in the 51st minute. The whites were shut out for most of the match, but retook the lead 15 minutes before full time, when Karim Benzema headed home Dani Carvajal’s cross. Their third goal came in injury time, moments after Thibaut Courtois prevented Mikel Vesga from making it 2-2.
It was an unfortunate night in which Gaizka Garitano’s side didn’t deserve such a cruel end – or to go home empty-handed.
Óscar De Marcos fired the first warning shot early on when he headed wide from Iñaki Williams’ cross. Then Williams went close, his shot going wide when he was knocked off balance by Carvajal in the box. Not long after, Raúl saw a second yellow after fouling Kroos.
Zinedine Zidane’s side dominated possession and sent in waves of attacks, but barely had a clear chance on goal in the first half as the red-and-white defence stood firm. Unai Simón played a role too, holding his ground well to stop Vinicius from finishing.
The gutting moment came during stoppage time at the end of the first half, Kroos smashing a long-range effort into the back of the net.
However, Athletic didn’t shrink and showed great courage after the break. They were rewarded early on when right-back Capa galloped through the Madrid defence, linking up with De Marcos and finishing after a bit of a scuffle in the box.
There seemed to be an eternity left to play. The lions were resolute and organised in defence, but they eventually conceded after a short corner routine saw Benzema get a header in the box.
Recently subbed on Iñigo Lekue was lively down the right and set up Iñigo Córdoba for a great chance but the winger couldn’t convert. Garitano’s boys then forced two corners but once again they had no luck.
The cherry on top of the bad luck cake came in injury-time. Every Athletic fan thought Vesga was about to stun Real Madrid but he was denied by a firm Courtois hand. In the resulting counter-attack Benzema put the game to bed.
There’s no rest for the wicked, Athletic welcome SD Huesca to San Mamés on Friday December 18.