Sociedad reaches deep to draw Champions League bound Bilbao
Real Sociedad striker Imanol Agirretxe struck late to ensure the Basque Country derby ended 1-1, spoiling Athletic Bilbao’s celebrations following their qualification for the Champions League.
Iker Muniain’s goal from 25 yards gave the hosts the lead to create a party atmosphere at San Mames Barria, but Agirretxe denied Athletic what would have been their first derby win for two years by scoring on 75 minutes. The game was tight at the start but began to open up after 10 minutes, with Carlos Vela firing at Gorka Iraizoz, who tipped the shot out for a corner.
Ander Herrera then shot just wide of a post from outside the area, but a minute later the visitors were on the attack again, and should have taken the lead. Xabi Prieto headed a free-kick at goal that was repelled by Iraizoz, and Markel Bergara could only smack the outside of the near post from the rebound.
But the best chance of the half fell to Gaizka Toquero, who was only in the starting line-up as top scorer Aritz Aduriz was rested in preparation for an upcoming hip operation. Ander Herrera fed Susaeta on the right and all Toquero had to do was poke the midfielder’s ball in at the near post, but he dragged the ball wide.
La Real had another chance to take the lead at the start of the second half. Muniain was dispossessed around the halfway line and the visitors broke quickly, David Zurutuza feeding Chory Castro, whose left-footed shot flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.
A minute later, Athletic took the lead. Muniain won the ball back in the Real half and negotiated his way past two men before bending the ball into the far corner. La Real continued to pose a threat on the break, however, and were denied an equaliser only by a perfectly-timed tackle by Mikel San Jose, who risked getting sent off when he tackled Vela, but he made clean contact with the ball.
A few minutes later Vela tangled with San Jose again, this time in the area, but the referee again waved play on. Toquero squandered another chance in comical fashion, slipping over as he tried to connect with a cross.
La Real forced an equalizer with a quarter of an hour remaining, their quick counter-attacking finally paying off. Vela split the defence with an arrowed pass for Agirretxe to run onto, and the striker calmly took the ball round Iraizoz to slot into the net.
Aymeric Laporte then saw a goal ruled out for a foul in the six-yard box on Jon Ansotegi, and in the final minute Vela also had a goal chalked off, for offside, which was less controversial.
Antoine Griezmann could have won the game for the visitors in the final minute, arriving in the box to steer a cross towards goal, but Iraizoz was equal to it and prevented a late twist.