Isco Equaliser Gives Real Madrid 1-1 Draw vs. Athletic Bilbao in La Liga

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist ISeptember 15, 2018

Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Isco (R) celebrates with Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo after scoring during the Spanish league football match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid CF at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on September 15, 2018. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Real Madrid dropped their first points of the league season in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Saturday.

The hosts went ahead on 32 minutes after Markel Susaeta's driving run saw Oscar de Marcos drive the ball across the penalty area and Iker Muniain scramble it home from close range.

Athletic had a second goal disallowed by VAR just minutes later when Raul Garcia was adjudged offside after turning in Benat Etxebarria's free-kick.

Real Madrid hit back after the break through substitute Isco, rose highest to nod in Gareth Bale's cross and secure a point.


Lopetegui's Madrid Fail First Major Test

Saturday's trip to San Mames provided Real Madrid with their first major test under Julen Lopetegui after wins over Getafe, Girona and Leganes.

As expected, Eduardo Berizzo's side provided stiff opposition. They pressed with real intensity, were aggressive and did not lack for belief against the European champions.

Opta noted how impressive their goal was:

Lopetegui did change things at half-time by sending on Casemiro for Dani Ceballos, while Isco scored just two minutes after coming on for Luka Modric.

Both teams had chances to win the game in a frantic second half. Madrid looked the stronger team as the hosts began to tire, but they could not come up with a winner.

Real Madrid did not lack for effort, but rivals Barcelona are now the only team in La Liga yet to drop points.


Real Madrid Lacking Presence in Attack

Scoring goals has not been a problem for Real Madrid so far this season, but they struggled to create clear-cut opportunities at San Mames.

Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio have all started the season well following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure.

Yet they lacked a presence in attack against Athletic, particularly in the first half.

After levelling the scores, it looked as though Real Madrid could kick on and get the win. Yet Lopetegui opted to replace Bale with Lucas Vazquez, and Athletic had few scares late on.


Unai Simon Ensures Athletic Don't Miss Kepa Arrizabalaga

Athletic Bilbao sold goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to Chelsea shortly before the start of the season, but 21-year-old Unai Simon has hardly put a foot wrong in his three La Liga outings.

The 21-year-old was confident, composed and certainly not fazed by facing Real Madrid on Saturday.

Sports writer Andy West offered his view:

He did make a small error when he spilled a Bale free-kick, but he was quick to make amends in denying Sergio Ramos on the rebound.

Football writer Simon Harrison noted his strengths:

There was very little he could do to deny Isco, but he saved well just minutes later when Asensio was sent through on goal.

Athletic Bilbao look to have another young star on their hands.


What's Next?

Real Madrid open their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday with a visit from Serie A side Roma. Athletic's next fixture is away to Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday, September 23.


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