Athletic Club played to a thrilling 3-3 draw against Malaga on Saturday. The Lions had a 3-1 lead and a man advantage late in the second half, but a strong comeback from the home side turned the joy into sorrow. Despite still earning a point, the Basques will feel like this one was a loss. Iker Muniain and Iñaki Williams stared for the Basque giants, but it wasn’t enough to take the much needed three points on the road.
Having lost their last two games, Athletic Club needed a big win on the road against Malaga. The game started just as they would’ve hoped with Iker Muniain earning a penalty just two minutes into the match. Aritz Aduriz stepped up and calmly finished to put the Lions ahead 1-0. From there Kuko Ziganda’s side began to take even more control of the game and looked comfortable as they continued to attack down the wings. Slowly, Malaga were able to work their way back into the game and forced Kepa Arrizabalaga to make a handful of saves.
Eventually the keeper was not able to keep the home side at bay as he was beaten by a beautiful curling effort to the top corner. With the score now level, both teams opened up and were looking to take the lead. Iker Muniain pulled the strings in the midfield and was creating the most chances, but Malaga constantly caused problems down both wings with Mikel Balenziaga and Iñigo Lekue struggled to deal with their attacks. However, there would be no more goals in the opening 45 minutes with the halftime whistle blowing.
It was clear that Ziganda had given his players some strong words in the locker room because they came out firing in the second half. Just a few minutes in they would take the lead thanks to Iñaki Williams. Iker Muniain won the ball back in the midfield and played through the winger who blasted his effort near post to take back the lead. It was Iñaki’s first goal of the season and fans could tell that it meant a lot to him. There was a lot to celebrate, but the game was just getting started.
Moments later Kuzmanovic was booked for fouling Iñigo Córdoba. The Malaga man began to argue with the referee and was immediately sent off. With a man advantage, the Lions took over in a big way. The Basques kept creating chances in the final third but Malaga held strong, but they couldn’t hold them back forever. Malaga earned a free kick just in front of their box and tried to take it quickly. Muniain stole the pass and played in Iñaki once again. The winger finished at the far post and Athletic were flying with a 3-1 lead.
It looked like the game was over, but that wasn’t the case. Malaga soon earned a free kick that was whipped in to the far post where Baysee was waiting to tap the ball past Kepa. La Rosaleda was filled with belief and it would only take a few minutes before the equalizer followed. A header from Unai Nuñez was challenged and Rolan was there to clean up the spilled ball. Kepa was able to get a hand to the shot, but not enough to keep it out of the goal. Malaga had completed the comeback while also being one man down. The final whistle sounded minutes later on a thrilling, but disappointing 3-3 draw for Athletic Club.
Athletic Club XI: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Iñigo Lekue, Unai Nuñez, Aymeric Laporte, Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel Vesga, Mikel San José (Ager Aketxe), Iñigo Córdoba (Markel Susaeta), Iker Muniain, Iñaki Williams, Aritz Aduriz (Raúl García)