By Ramon Orosa
Bilbao, Spain, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- Athletic Club and Atletico de Madrid battled to a 1-1 draw on Sunday in their return to La Liga competition after the hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, an extremely equal clash played at the Bilbao team’s San Mames stadium – empty due to the coronavirus pandemic – with Iker Muniain scoring in the first half for the home squad and Diego Costa equalizing just minutes later for the visitors.
The match was quite evenly balanced all the way through, with no noteworthy surprises, but neither team was fully satisfied with the result, both hoping to garner three points for a win rather than just a single point for a draw.
However, as the first outing for both squads, both Gaizka Garitano’s boys and those of Diego Pablo Simeone were at least satisfied in the sense that neither went down to defeat after months under lockdown.
Marcos Llorente got things going for Athletic in the 12th minute, passing to Yannick Carrasco, who fired just wide past the Madrid goaltender, Unai Simon.
Jan Oblak – in the net for Madrid – tried twice to handle Inaki Williams’ 25th-minute header but fumbled each attempt, although no score resulted, but he did manage to fend off all but one of the subsequent tries, having no chance to defend properly when Muniain delivered a great shot with the outside of his right foot into the bottom right corner of the net.
But Atletico bounced right back two minutes later, with Koke knocking a superb pass to Costa, who slid one past Simon for the 1-1, where the score remained at half-time.
Early in the second period, it was Atletico who kept control of the action, trying a number of moves – which nevertheless came to nought.
Yuri Berchiche’s shot on goal for Athletic also misfired, finding its way into the outer side of the net.
Arias made it unchecked into the Athletic danger zone with just 10 minutes to go in the match, firing off a nice shot that Simon managed to save, thus snatching the draw from the jaws of what would otherwise have been a visiting team victory.
Athletic Club: Unai Simon; Capa, Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri (Unai Nuñez, m.83); Dani Garcia, Unai Lopez (Vesga, m.63); Williams (Kenan Kodro, m.91), Muniain (De Marcos, m.83), Cordoba (Sancet, m.63); and Raul Garcia.
Atletico de Madrid: Oblak; Trippier (Arias, m.63), Savic, Gimenez, Lodi; Koke (Herrera, m.78), Thomas, Saul, Carrasco (Lemar, m.63); Marcos Llorente (Correa, m.68) and Diego Costa (Morata, m.63).
Goals: 1-0, m.37: Muniain. 1-1, m.39: Diego Costa.
Official Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez handed yellow cards to home team members Muniain (m.6), Williams (m.46) and Iñigo Martinez (m.84) and none to the visitors.