Inspired Ruben Blanco keeps Athletic at bay
Celta Vigo had goalkeeper Ruben Blanco to thank as they remained in the game against Athletic Club, even going on to take the lead through Rafinha Alcantara, but a Raul Garcia penalty saw the Basques able to rescue a point at San Mames on Sunday evening.
The first half saw no goals, but Blanco had to be sharp to prevent a long-range Yuri Berchiche shot and later an Iker Muniain header from a couple of yards out.
Santi Mina had a glaring chance to open the scoring as he found some space at the back post, but he put Kevin Vazquez’s cross from the right wide of the post.
Eleven minutes after the half-time break, Celta took the lead. Iago Aspas drew in four Athletic players and that enabled him to pick out Rafinha, who was on the edge of the D, and the former Barcelona midfielder allowed the ball to run across his body before firing a well-hit left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of Iago Herrerin’s goal.
Just when it looked like Celta were going to join the rest of the teams around them by winning this weekend, with only Leganes failing to do so, Athletic were awarded a penalty just under 20 minutes after Rafinha’s strike.
Muniain came in from the left wing, causing havoc for Kevin Vazquez, and his left-footed cross into the area hit the hand of Celta’s new signing, Jeison Murillo. The referee did not hesitate to point to the spot.
Raul Garcia then stepped up and send Blanco the wrong way, beating the Celta goalkeeper after it looked like he would keep a well-earned clean sheet.
There was almost a moment of magic to end the game as Raul Garcia attempted an acrobatic overhead kick in the last minute of stoppage time, but his shot bounced through the legs of second-half substitute Joseph Aidoo and went over the bar.
This point leaves Celta in 18th on 16 points, which means they now have a two-point advantage over Leganes and Espanyol below them, while Athletic remain eighth on 30 points.