Athletic Bilbao draw Real Sociedad; Levante close in on safety

Athletic Bilbao's Mikel Balenziaga duels for the ball with Real Sociedad's Carlos Vela.

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad had to settle for a point each after a full-blooded and controversial Basque derby ended 1-1 on Tuesday.

With both teams nestled in mid-table in the Primera Division, you could be forgiven for expecting this encounter to have less bite than usual but that certainly was not the the case.

Both teams looked to get forward but there were no goals until the second half when Aritz Aduriz netted from the penalty spot in controversial fashion as Mikel Gonzalez was dismissed.

Sociedad equalised through Alberto de la Bella with a sumptuous strike on the hour and while both teams continued to battle for a winner, they could not be separated.

The atmosphere at San Mames was all you would expect from the derby and Aduriz began things with a bang as he attempted an acrobatic overhead kick only to concede a foul for a high boot.

Chory Castro responded down the other end as he caught a sweet half-volley but it flew high and wide.

The best chance of the half fell to Aduriz after 15 minutes as Bilbao broke on the counter and a cross found its way to the striker whose header was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Geronimo Rulli.

The home side were more eager to get forward while David Moyes’ men, while not playing defensively, looked more of a threat on the break and saw Carlos Vela fire a fierce, dipping volley over the bar.

LA LIGA RESULTS

Despite having the better of possession up until the interval, Athletic could not find a goal before the break, although one did come seven minutes after in controversial fashion.

Rulli and Aduriz both went for a high ball and when it ran loose, Gonzalez was adjudged to have fouled the striker, although it looked to be a 50/50 ball.

Gonzalez was given his marching orders and Aduriz coolly rolled home the penalty to give his side the lead.

Five minutes later and Bilbao thought they had a second through Ager Aketxe but Aduriz was in an offside position and interfering with play when the cross came in.

Aduriz had his tail up and tried another overhead kick before, on the hour, Sociedad had an equaliser.

Ruben Pardo played the ball out to De la Bella who took a touch with his left and then curled home with his right in stunning fashion.

Both sides continued to press and, despite having a man less, Sociedad looked marginally the more dangerous as Gorka Iraizoz was called upon to make smart save from Xabi Prieto.

Inaki Williams should have done better with a volley as full-time approached but a feisty encounter ended all-square.

HEAR US OUT

Levante 1, Cordoba 0

Levante edged another step closer to securing themselves Primera Division football for next season while pushing Cordoba closer to the drop with a 1-0 win at the Ciudad de Valencia.

David Barral’s well-worked goal just before half-time was all that separated the two relegation battlers, but it was one that could prove key for both clubs in their respective fights to stay up.

Levante, who beat Getafe by the same scoreline at the weekend, are now six points clear of third-bottom Deportivo La Coruna – albeit having played a game more – while rock-bottom Cordoba are 11 points from safety with only four games left to the save themselves.

Cordoba could mathematically be relegated on Wednesday, but it seems unlikely as it would need Almeria and Eibar to upset the odds in their matches against Sevilla and Real Madrid.

The Andalusian side, who are without a win since January 12 and have collected three points since, were always up against it at the Ciudad de Valencia where Levante went close through Juanfran, Barral and Roberto Camarasa before Barral broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute.

He pulled the ball down on the edge of the area before spreading it out wide to strike partner Victor Casadesus, who immediately played the ball back in towards the far post for Barral to side-foot home first time.

It was a clinical finish to a good move by Barral, and it proved to be the decisive incident of the match as Cordoba were unable to find an equaliser during a second half devoid of many clear goalscoring chances at either end.