Granada net directly from corner to frustrate Athletic Bilbao as sides share spoils


Granada net directly from corner to frustrate Athletic Bilbao as sides share spoils

Gorka Guruzeta levelled the game for the Basques in the first half
Gorka Guruzeta levelled the game for the Basques in the first halfAFP
Athletic Club’s top-four hopes were dealt a major blow after being held to a 1-1 draw by relegation battlers Granada, who are now unbeaten in their last four LaLiga matches with the Basque outfit.

Spirits were high inside the Estadio San Mames, with Athletic looking to continue their charge for UEFA Champions League (UCL) qualification against a side seemingly destined for the drop, having lost 13 of their previous 15 away league matches.

However, that atmosphere soon turned increasingly tetchy when the Andalusians scored a sixth-minute opener straight from a corner. Gerard Gumbau’s set-piece appeared to take the slightest of deflections from Inaki Williams and beat Unai Simon at his near post.

Granada’s lead never looked comfortable though, and Gorka Guruzeta restored parity to the scoreline midway through the first half. Nazaries' shot-stopper Augusto Batalla could only parry a deflected Nico Williams cross into the path of Guruzeta, who clinically rifled home the loose ball.

He almost scored a second after brilliantly timing his run from Oihan Sancet’s through-ball and providing a deft goalbound finish over Batalla, but Ignasi Miquel made a superb sliding clearance off the line.

Ernesto Valverde’s side applied the pressure after the restart, as Yuri Berchiche headed wide from a tantalising Unai Gómez cross before Yeray Alvarez narrowly missed the post with a curling long-range strike.

Inaki Williams then tried his luck with a ferocious strike which Batalla pushed over the bar. Jose Ramon Sandoval’s men were defending admirably, pressing Los Leones, who struggled to find spaces in a compact Granada backline. 

It was going to take something special to break their resistance, and unfortunately for Athletic, this never materialised. This was best summed up when Iñaki Williams snatched at a close-range shot after a game of pinball inside the Granada box, subsequently firing his attempt wide.

The points were ultimately shared, leaving the hosts three points adrift of Atlético Madrid having played a game more than Diego Simeone’s side.

The two teams face each other at the Estadio Metropolitano on April 27, in what is looking like a must-win match to keep Los Leones’ UCL hopes alive.

Meanwhile, Granada’s survival prospects were already looking bleak prior to their trip to Bilbao, but this performance at least shows they are not willing to go down without a fight.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Nico Williams (Athletic Club)

Athletic Bilbao - Granada player ratings
Athletic Bilbao - Granada player ratingsFlashscore

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