Bilbao - FC Augsburg’s continental debut ended in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Athletic Club in the sides’ UEFA Europa League Group L opener.
ATHLETIC CLUB 3-1 FC AUGSBURG
0-1 Altintop (15’), 1-1 Aduriz (55’), 2-1 Aduriz (66’), 3-1 Susaeta (90’)
Unacccustomed to European competition, Augsburg’s uncharacteristically quiet start was understandable, although the German visitors were fortunate not to go behind when both Aritz Aduriz and Benat both spurned early chances. Shaken into life, Markus Weinzierl’s troops went ahead on the quarter-hour mark through Halil Altintop’s calm, close-range finish.
Growing in confidence, Augsburg began to counter with purpose, forcing Athletic keeper Iago Herrerin into excellent saves from Dong-Won Ji and Dominik Kohr before the break. The debutant visitors suffered a setback ten minutes into the second period, however, when Aduriz’s powerful header restored parity.
Alexander Esswein threatened an immediate response, but was denied from close range by the impressive Herrerin. It proved to be a rare opportunity for Augsburg with Athletic now firmly in the driving seat, and they went ahead when Aduriz’s shot was deflected past Marwin Hitz in the 66th minute. As the visitors threw caution to the wind, Esswein spurned a one-on-one late on, but Susaeta’s late finish ended any lingering hopes of the Bundesliga outfit leaving San Mames with a point.
MAN OF THE MATCH
It was another flawless display from Augsburg captain Paul Verhaegh. The Dutchman was as reliable as ever in his defensive duties and linked well with Esswein going forward.
Despite the defeat, it was a performance of which Augsburg’s numerous travelling fans can be proud. Their side refused to give an inch and should probably have increased the lead before the Spanish giants levelled. Irrespective of the result, it was a continental debut to remember.
- Halil Altintop scored FC Augsburg’s first-ever goal in European competition.
- Augsburg were the only side in the UEFA Europa League making their debut on Matchday 1.
- Die Fuggerstädter’s impressive performance was reflected in the shot count: Markus Weinzierl’s men fired in seven to the hosts’ eight.
Athletic: Iago Herrerin; De Marcos, Etxeita, Laporte, Lekue; Benat, Elustondo (Rico, 45’); Susaeta, Raul Garcia (Gurpegi, 80’), Ibai Gomez (Merino, 64’), Aduriz
Augsburg: Hitz; Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Feulner; Baier; Kohr, Esswein, Altintop (Koo, 59’), Ji-Dong Won, Matavz (Werner, 66’)