Antoine Griezmann saved a point at San Mamés for Atlético Madrid on Sunday afternoon, firing home a stunning equaliser in a tight 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao.
The home side turned the match on it’s head after falling behind early on to Koke’s cross that went straight in, but were denied the win by Atleti’s mercurial Frenchman ten minutes from time.
Coming off of a 3-0 win over Eibar in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, the visitors were coming into the match in high spirits after a good performance and an improved run of 6 wins from 7 matches.
It took less than two minutes from them to go in front at San Mamés, the goal coming in inadvertent fashion as Athletic and goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz seemingly fell asleep at the back.
Koke picked up the ball on the right and whipped it into the box, but the cross bypassed everybody including intended target Griezmann and nestled in the bottom corner for 1-0.
However, despite their cup exploits Atleti were also coming into the match with a lot of fatigue having played 6 matches in 19 days, and their lack of freshness showed as time went on.
Athletic took control of the half from then on and pushed from the equaliser, and although the visitors were having some joy on the counter attack and almost scored a second through Carrasco, they were soon punished.
Just before half-time, Iñigo Lekue was afforded time and space on the edge of the box, and needed no invitation to send a rasping shot past Miguel Ángel Moyá and into the top corner.
It was a sucker punch for Atleti just before the break and changed the whole dynamic of the game, with Athletic now having the momentum to go on and find another goal.
Ten minutes into the second half that’s exactly what they did did, and once again it was poor defending from Diego Simeone’s side that allowed them to score.
Diego Godín failed to track the run of Oscar de Marcos, and he was in the right place at the right time to ghost in and head Raúl García’s cross past Moyá to put los Leones in front.
It was a familiar story for Atleti fans, who before the match had taken just one point from 5 matches against La Liga’s top seven and had shown an uncharacteristically soft centre in tough away trips such as these.
Things weren’t help by the referee, or more specifically the linesman, who flagged incorrectly against Antoine Griezmann to deny him a delightful lobbed goal from a tight angle. It was one of a number of poor decisions he was guilty of making.
Thankfully, there was still time for Griezmann to score an even more delightful equaliser not long after, the Frenchman picking up Torres’ pass 30 yards from goal and lashing it in off of the post.
It was some strike from the former Real Sociedad man, ever popular in the San Mamés for his past with Athletic’s biggest rival. He now has five goals in 2017, and 14 in total this season.
With ten minutes on the clock, both teams pushed for the winner but a draw was the right result in the end, neither side deserving to lose a match that was played on the edge for the whole 90 minutes.
Atleti will be frustrated to lose more ground on leaders Real Madrid, but under the circumstances and with Athletic not far behind in seventh, it could’ve been a lot worse.
On Wednesday we return to the Basque country for the second leg of our Copa del Rey tie against Eibar, before a third successive trip to the region next week to play Alavés in La Liga.
Player ratings: Moyá 5, Vrsaljko 6, Godín 5, Giménez 6, Filipe 6, Gabi 6, Saúl 6, Koke 7, Carrasco 6, Griezmann 7 (MOTM), Gameiro 5. Subs: Torres 6, Gaitán 5, Correa 6.