Barcelona played their first away match of the La Liga season and escaped with a point thanks to a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés. Barça were outplayed in the first half and went behind early in the second, but fought back and dominated the final 30 minutes, and Memphis Depay’s first official goal for the club rescued a valuable point in the Basque Country.
Martin Braithwaite missed a sitter from five yards out and Ronald Araujo had a bicycle kick goal disallowed. Those were the two highlights from Barça’s first half. The rest of the 45 minutes were completely dominated by Athletic, who pressed from the front from the very beginning and suffocated Barça’s buildup.
The Blaugrana barely got out of their half for the entire period, and Bilbao created chance after chance as Iñaki Williams terrorized the Barça defense. Iker Muniain was also nearly unplayable down the left, and that was the side that Bilbao chose to attack as Sergiño Dest struggled to defend and didn’t get much help from his teammates.
Gerard Piqué went off with an injury in the 30-minute mark, and Ronald Araujo helped stabilize things somewhat but the home team was very much on top and should have gone up if not for poor finishing and bad luck.
At halftime, Barça were second-best in every department and needed to improve a lot to give themselves a chance in the final 45.
Athletic were just as good to start the second half and got the goal they thoroughly deserved, and it came on a Muniain corner that Iñigo Martínez headed home just five minutes into the period.
Bilbao retreated after scoring and allowed Barça to have possession, and the Blaugrana responded well to going behind and started to show intent and creativity up front. It wasn’t easy to find spaces against a tight Athletic defense, but Memphis Depay and Frenkie De Jong started getting closer and closer.
De Jong hit the crossbar, and one minute later Sergi Roberto found Memphis all alone on the left wing and the Dutchman scored a sensational goal with a rocket into the roof of the net to equalize. Barça stayed on top in the final minutes and pressed for the winner, and they had a golden chance when De Jong released Memphis for a one-on-one with the keeper but he dragged the shot just wide.
Eric García was sent off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity in the dying seconds, and the final whistle came to finish things up in a draw. Athletic deserved to win, but Barça showed good fight in the second half and a draw isn’t entirely unfair either. A point at San Mamés would be a good result even in the peak of the Messi Era, so this one is certainly not bad.
Athletic: Agirrezabala; Lekue, Vivian, Martínez, Balenziaga; Berenguer (Morcillo 82’), García (Zarraga 82’), Vencedor (Vesga 67’), Muniain (N. Williams 76’); Williams, Sancet (R. García 67’)
Goal: Martínez (50’)
Barcelona: Neto; Dest (Emerson 82’), García, Piqué (Araujo 30’), Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri (Roberto 62’); Griezmann, Memphis, Braithwaite (Demir 62’)
Goal: Memphis (75’)
Red Card: García (90’+3)