Athletic Club 1-2 Real Valladolid: Lezama Stars Debut In Preseason Loss

Athletic Club played in their fifth preseason friendly on Saturday, losing 2-1 to Segunda side Real Valladolid. The Lions had just played against Club Brugge 24 hours earlier so there were wholesale changes in Cuco Ziganda’s lineup. It was a decent showing from the Basques who opened up the scoring just four minutes into the game, but were unable to hold the lead. Athletic will now turn their attention to Thursday’s game against Dinamo Bucuresti.

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Inigo Cordoba celebrating his goal against Real Valladolid (Athletic Club)

It was a brilliant start for Athletic Club who dominated possession from the opening whistle. They put Real Valladolid on their heels and forced them into defense early on. Before their opponents could really settle into the game, the Lions struck when Asier Villalibre set up Inigo Cordoba for the opening goal in just the fourth minute. With the lead already in hand, Athletic seemed to take a vey relaxed approach to the rest of the match which got them into a bit of trouble.

The Lions almost doubled their lead after 30 minutes when Inigo Lekue struck the post, but they had nothing to show for it. Five minutes later Valladolid would answer back when they picked up a fumbled ball in the box. Jose was able to beat Unai Simon to draw level and take the two clubs into the halftime break at 1-1. It was clear that Athletic was the better side, but having such an early lead brought complacency which was difficult to overcome. Ziganda chose not to make any changes after the break, while their opponents switched their entire lineup.

The second half began with very little action as Valladolid’s new lineup was trying to feel out the game and work their way into possession. Athletic continued to play very relaxed football but still had relative control of the game. Near the hour mark that complacency began to cause them real problems when Pablo Hervias broke down the right wing and had a great look on goal but was unable to finish. Not long after, Nacho would win a header to beat Simon and give Valladolid the lead.

In the 70th minute, Ziganda made the decision to change up the team by bringing on Aitor Seguin, Kike Sola, and Unai Lopez. The substitutions had very little affect on the play, but it was good to see others get their chance. Five minutes later Athletic would have a chance to draw level when Unai Nunez put a wonderful shot on goal, but it was saved by the keeper. The game was soon drawing to an end and, with five minutes remaining, Ziganda brought on Peru Nolaskoain, Jon Sillero, and Andoni Lopez from Bilbao Athletic. They were able to play their first minutes for the first team and the final whistle soon sounded with the Lions having lost 2-1. All of the attention will now turn to Thursday’s Europa League qualifying match against Dinamo Bucuresti which will take place in Romania.

Athletic Club XI: Unai Simon, Eneko Boveda (Jon Sillero 85′), Unai Nunez, Mikel San Jose, Enric Saborit (Andoni Lopez 85′), Ander Iturraspe (Peru Nolaskoain 85′), Mikel Rico, Inigo Cordoba (Aitor Seguin 68′), Ager Aketxe (Unai Lopez 68′), Inigo Lekue, Asier Villalibre (Kike Sola 68′)

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