Athletic Club pick up a point from their first LaLiga fixture of the season
Athletic Club began their 2021-22 LaLiga campaign with a goalless draw against Elche CF. It was a tightly-contested affair, which was affected by the heat.
The bright spot for Athletic fans was the official debuts handed to 20-year-old goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala and central defender Dani Vivian. The former, who had a great pre-season, was called into action early on when Pedro Bigas forced him into a save with a shot at the near post.
Athletic took control, but found it difficult to make inroads against well-organised opponents. In the first half, the Lions barely troubled Kiko Casilla. Alex Berenguer had a shot deflected wide, Enzo Rocco denied Iñaki Williams with a last-ditch tackle and Mikel Balenziaga‘s long-range effort was turned away for a corner just before half-time.
Fran Escribá’s side had two major chances in the first half. Fidel Chaves, Johan Mojica and Pere Pons linked up well, but the latter somehow managed to miss the target. Fidel also had a goal ruled out after VAR judged him to be offside.
In the sweltering heat and on an uneven pitch, the Lions tried to go up a gear after the break. Iñaki Williams tried to chip Casilla but the ball went just over and Dani García dragged a shot wide after getting on the end of a pull-back by Berenguer.
Elche began to run out of steam. And most of their chances came from set-pieces. Meanwhile, Marcelino made changes as Athletic chased the win. Substitute Oier Zarraga had a go from distance but couldn’t beat Casilla.
Agirrezabala then saved a point for his team with a spectacular save from Tete Morente’s shot in the 91st minute.
Another highlight of the night was being able to see almost 10,000 spectators at the Martínez Valero, which included a healthy number of Athletic supporters.