Madrid, Aug 22 (IANS) Memphis Depay’s first goal for FC Barcelona saved his side from their first defeat of the season as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Athletic Club Bilbao in La Liga here.
Athletic dominated the first 70 minutes of the game, but Barca were able to save a point as the Basque side tired in the closing minutes.
The first half saw Athletic take the game to Barca, pressuring the ball high up the pitch and causing all sorts of problems for the visitors.
Martin Braithwaite fired over in a rare Barca attack, before Oihan Sancet rattled a shot against the Barca crossbar and Ronald Koeman’s side suffered a setback midway through the half when Gerard Pique was forced off injured and replaced by Ronald Araujo, Xinhua reports.
Araujo miraculously cleared off the line from Alex Berenguer in the first minute of the second half, but Athletic got their reward when Inigo Martinez headed home from a corner. But for Neto saving from Sancet, they would have doubled their lead.
Frenkie de Jong kept Barca afloat and his pass to Memphis with 16 minutes left saw the recent arrival score with a powerful left foot shot.
Barca then threatened to go on and win the game, but Athletic’s changes brought some fresh legs into the game and in virtually the last move of the game Barca defender Eric Garcia was sent off for bringing down Nico Williams who was running clean through on goal.
Wu Lei had a last-minute ‘goal’ ruled out as Espanyol drew 0-0 at home to Villarreal. The striker came on as a substitute for the recently promoted side and thought he had netted the winning goal only for it to be ruled out after the ball was shown to have impacted on his hand.
The VAR also caused late drama in the 1-1 draw between Granada and Valencia. The home side took the lead in the 16th minute after Luis Suarez finished off a counter-attack.
Valencia kept looking for an equalizer and got their reward two minutes from time when Carlos Soler scored his second penalty in two games after he’d been brought down in the area.
Granada thought they had scored a winning goal in the second minute of injury time only for the video to rule out Montoro’s effort for a tight offside.
Fer Nino celebrated his debut on loan at Mallorca with an 80th minute goal that gave his side a 1-0 win away to Alaves, who ended up with 10 men after defender Ruben Duarte was sent off in the 66th minute of the game.
Mallorca have four points from two games on their return to the top flight while Alaves have lost consecutive home games at the start of the season.
The round of games began on Friday night as Betis and Cadiz drew 1-1 in an entertaining game either side could have won.