Despite the scoreboard Athletic were the better team, especially in the second half
Athletic Club were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle United at St. James' Park. The home team are further along in their preparations but the Lions were the much better side in the second half, with Newcastle barely getting a touch of the ball in the last 30 minutes.
Raúl García scored Athletic's only goal of the encounter and almost got equaliser with a shot that hit the post. But there were a handful of other chances for Los Rojiblancos to secure a deserved draw.
A physically imposing Newcastle, cheered on by 46,000 spectators, came out strongly and took the lead through Callum Wilson's powerful opener. Iñaki Williams had then had an opportunity to level after being played through by Alex Berenguer, but the striker couldn't find the target.
Oscar de Marcos also had a long-range effort, but the Lions big chance of the first half came from a counter-attack between Berenguer and Williams, the no.9 firing into the side-netting when a one-on-one with Dubravka.
Allan Saint-Maximin's goal in the 53rd minute aside, Athletic were much improved in the second half. Substitutes Oihan Sancet and Oier Zarraga controlled the midfield, while Iñaki Williams was dangerous when moved to the wing.
Athletic's chances kept piling up and in the 64th minute Raúl García made the pressure count, scoring his second goal of the pre-season with a towering header from an Iñaki cross.
A succession of goalscoring opportunities followed. Iñaki went close again, a shot from Berenguer skimmed the top corner, a Zarraga effort which had Dubravka scrambling and Raúl hitting the post... If it had been an official match, we might have been pulling our hair out.
An evening of hard work which will stand the Lions in good stead when they return to Bilbao, and a proper test against a team with major ambitition in the Premier League.
Head coach Ernesto Valverde now has the team where he wants it. There was plenty of energy and skill on display, with decent competition for places in the starting XI.