Athletic conquers Butarque on its way to Europe

Garitano: I’m pleased that the team won at such a difficult place

Athletic Bilbao defeated Leganes on a rainy wednesday night in the midweek 34th round of LaLiga. The only goal came from Leganes striker En-Nesyri who headed the ball into his own net. The Basque team cements its 7th position which will most likely see Athletic play in the Europa League next season. ‘Pepineros’ suffer another defeat after losing to Villareal last weekend but remain safe from relegation.

 

A little more than 4000 people gathered in the Butarque stadium on a cold miserable night in the Spanish capital. Andriy Lunin made a rare start in goal for ‘Pepineros’ while veteran Aduriz was leading the attacking line for Athletic.

Kick-off was postponed with 5 minutes as referee Iglesias Villanueva had to re-coordinate the use of the VAR system with his colleagues in the control room. The game commenced but the action was just like the weather: gloomy and uninspiring. Kravets was the main outlet for the home team in the first half. His shot from long range went just over the bar while another attempt found the hands of Athletic goalkeeper Herrerin. The visitors had a chance to score through a corner kick but Martinez’ header  didn’t trouble Lunin. It was precisely a corner kick that led to Bilbao breaking the deadlock just before half-time. Leganes goalscorer En-Nesyri bizarrely headed the ball into his own net and send the visiting fans into delirium. 0:1 at the break.

The home team started the second half on the front foot desperately looking for an equalizer. Right wing-back Juanfran was putting cross after cross into the visitors box but with no end product from the Pepineros strikers. En-Nesyri had a chance to redeem himself but his attempt at a volley was unsuccessful. Bilbao could have doubled their lead as Iñaki Williams dribbled his way to a one-on-one opportunity with the keeper but his shot was aimed straight at him. Leganes piled on the pressure in the last minutes but failed to cause a real danger in front of goal. Gumbau had an attempt from free kick in the dying moments but send the ball flying over the bar and added to a disappointing night for Leganes fans. The final whistle went off and the 200 traveling Athletic faithful cheered their team under the Madrid rain. Final score: Leganes – Atletic Bilbao 0:1

Visiting team manager Gaizka Garitano was delighted with his team’s performance “This is such a hard place to win. None of the top six teams did what we have done tonight.” Asked about European ambitions Garitano remained calm “I prefer not to think about the long-term. We need to focus on our next game against Alaves on Saturday because if we lose, it will make our victory today seem pointless.”

Starting lineups:

CD Leganes: Cuellar, Juanfran, Gumbau, Carillo, Kravets, R.Tarin, Eraso, R.Perez, Siovas, Omeruo, En Nesyri

Athletic Club: Herrerin, Nunez, Martinez, Yeray, San Jose, Williams, Cordoba, Yuri, Lekue, Mikel Rico, Aduriz

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