Bilbao, Spain, Aug 21 (EFE).- Athletic Club and FC Barcelona drew 1-1 here Saturday, sharing the points after a contest in which both sides showed off mid-season form just two weeks into the 2021-2022 LaLiga campaign.
After 18 months of matches behind closed doors because of Covid-19, the roughly 11,000 spectators who filled the stands at Bilbao’s San Mames stadium were treated to some entertaining football.
Even without Lionel Messi, the Blaugrana dominated possession, yet the hosts outshot them 16-9.
The first half saw plenty of chances, but the squads went to the dressing rooms 0-0.
Athletic broke the deadlock in the 50th minute, when Iñigo Martinez beat Neto with a perfect header off Iker Muniain’s corner.
The home side used their high press to hold Barça at bay until Frenkie de Jong hit the cross-bar in the 74th minute, a minute before Memphis Depay brought the visitors level.
Conceding the equalizer did nothing to dent Athletic’s morale and Depay’s inability to capitalize on a chance in the 86th minute gave them impetus heading into stoppage time.
And while it earned him a red card, Eric Garcia’s decision to bring down Nico Williams in the box in the 93rd minute may well have preserved the point for Barcelona.
The result leaves Barça level on points with Mallorca and Valencia at 4, but the Catalans are in first by virtue of goal difference.
Athletic are ninth in the table with 2 points. EFE ibn/dr