Rayo, Bilbao remain adrift in La Liga
Madrid: Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Bilbao played out a 1-1 draw in a La Liga match here between two teams that are near the bottom of the Spanish league standings and were badly in need of three points.
Wednesday night’s contest at the Vallecas Stadium began in controversial fashion when Rayo striker Raul de Tomas appeared to score in the 12th minute but had his goal overturned by the video assistant referee (VAR) system, reports Efe news agency.
Although the on-field referee had allowed the goal to stand, the video review showed that the striker had controlled the ball with his right arm before beating Athletic net minder Iago Herrerin with a shot from outside the penalty box.
The setback, however, only seemed to inspire the host club, which took full command of the contest and opened the scoring 10 minutes later thanks to an outstanding individual effort by Jose Angel Pozo.
Athletic, which has never been relegated from the top division since La Liga’s inception in 1929, remains in 17th place out of 20 teams with nine points.
Rayo is still at the 19th spot with just six points after Wednesday night’s draw.
The attacking midfielder dribbled the ball to a spot just outside the area and fired a shot just inside the far upright.
Athletic’s offence, meanwhile, sputtered on the other side of the field due to a lack of contributions by Iñaki Williams and Iker Muniain, thus leaving Aritz Aduriz too isolated in attack.
Head coach Eduardo Berizzo responded at the start of the second half by replacing Williams with Raul Garcia, who immediately gave the visitors a lift and nearly scored on a header that Rayo goalkeeper Alberto Garcia cleared away at the goal line.
Athletic’s play improved from that point forward and the visitors were rewarded in the 66th minute when Muniain scored on the rebound after a shot by Garcia had struck the woodwork.
Rayo, however, got the match in its favor once again and had more chances to score over the frenetic final half-hour of the contest, with defender Alex Galvez having a pair of opportunities at close range but not being able to put the ball in the back of the net.
Wednesday’s match was to have been played nearly two months ago, but it was postponed due to renovation work at the Vallecas Stadium.