Athletic Club earned a draw against Villarreal thanks to Raúl García, but it was a match they could have won and one where they were denied a clear penalty
Athletic Club drew 1-1 at La Cerámica against Villarreal. Although a win have a been a big step towards Europe, the draw leaves the Lions just a point behind Unai Emery’s side with the goal average in their favour. It is a small step towards seventh place, which could give end up being a route into continental competition.
Cheered on by a large contigent of travelling fans, the Lions struggled to find their rhythm until midway through the first half. Villarreal were the better side but there were few chances.
Alex Petxarroman came on for Mikel Vesga in the 26th minute with the latter picking up a knock. The ex-Real player put in a mature performance, doing well in the midfield role. Six minutes later, Oscar De Marcos tested Sergio Asenjo, getting a head on Iñaki Williams‘ cross after a great team move.
Four minutes later, the disputed and perhaps key action of the match arrived. Iker Muniain took a shot and it hit Serge Aurier’s elbow as he went to block it. VAR told the referee to take a look, but to everyone’s surprise he did not award one after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
Athletic took a deserved lead in the 44th minute. Iker Muniain rounded Asenjo before cutting it back for Raúl García to score. It was originally ruled out for offside, but eventually it was given.
Athletic were comfortable and pushing hard for a second, when Alfonso Pedraza made it 1-1 against the run of play on the hour mark. Emery, who heavily rotated ahead of their Champions League duel on Tuesday, then brought his big guns off the bench and Unai Simón made a great save from Arnaut Danjuma.
Athletic recovered and regained control. In the 80th minute, Asenjo saved a powerful drive from Iker Muniain before denying Nico Williams moments later. Los Rojiblancos had the best chances to win, but will have to settle for a draw. Nonetheless, the team continues to perform well.