Real Madrid Femenino defeated Athletic Club 2-0 thanks to goals from Athenea del Castillo and Nahikari Gracia. Las Blancas leap-frog the Basque side into fifth place. Prior to kickoff, the teams walked out with shirts that read “Todos con Ucrania.”
Las Blancas and Athletic Club both looked to their direct options in the opening minutes. As the match progressed Real Madrid dominated possession and tried to break down their rival’s compact defense. Athletic Club continued to look to Lucia Garcia and Ane Azkona, who were running off the back shoulder of the defense.
Real Madrid had the better of possession and more chances but Athletic’s threat on the counter served as a constant reminder that although they didn’t have much of the ball they could strike quickly. Neither team were able to capitalize on the half-chances they created and the sides went into the break locked in a scoreless draw.
Athletic Club created much more danger than Las Blancas in the early stages of the second half. Real Madrid struggled to maintain the possessional dominance they had in the first half and Athletic Club were better able to play through the Las Blancas defense.
Las Blancas were more clinical and grew into the second half. Athenea del Castillo capitalized on a poor back pass and opened the scoring. Substitute Nahikari Gracia secured the result with a brilliant chip shot.
- 3’ Azkona ran past Rocio and onto a well-weighted through pass. Rocio recovered well and put Azkona off just enough to ensure the shot didn’t trouble Misa in goal.
- 4’ On the other end, Kaci released Kosovare Asllani into the area. She reared back to fire a shot at goal but it was blocked out for a corner.
- 19’ Athenea cut inside on her right foot and hit a straight shot right at the Athletic Club keeper.
- 19’ Kaci gave the ball away at the top of the Real Madrid box. The Lionesses tried to capitalize by Rocio was able to head the shot out for a corner, dispelling the immediate danger.
- 26’ Claudia Zornoza delivered a free-kick into the area. It was cleared only as far as Rocio. The center back’s shot was tame and landed at the feet of Asllani, who was unable to get her shot through the multiple Athletic Club defenders.
- 27’ Kenti Robles picked off a pass and played the ball to Esther at the top of the 18-yard box. The forward dribbled to create a window to shoot and hit it into the hands of the keeper.
- 41’ Athletic Club countered at pace. Lucia Garcia received the ball and lined up what looked like a clear chance on goal until Ivana Andres put in a sliding challenge to block the shot.
- 45’ Kenti Robles was first to a 50-50 ball and loft a vertical ball to Rocio in the box. Rocio played a soft cross toward the six-yard box. Esther got to it dribbled to the side of the diving keeper and shot. The Athletic Club defenders did well to get a touch to prevent the opener.
- 47’ Athletic Club created the most dangerous chance of the match so far. Azkona played a great cross to the head of Yulema Corres.
- 51’ Asllani turned past her defender and played a cut back intended for Esther, who was waiting to strike it home at the penalty spot. The ball never arrived thanks to an Athletic Club defender’s challenge.
- 56’ Kaci played a line-breaking pass to Zornoza, who sprung Athenea in behind. The young winger crossed to Esther but the striker couldn’t get enough of a touch to steer it on target.
- 60’ Lucia Garcia brought down a lofted long ball and struck with her left foot. The shot sailed over the Real Madrid goal.
- 62’ Athletic Club nearly took advantage of a corner kick. It was headed toward the back post where two Lionesses crashed to the ball. Kaci made an integral challenge to clear the danger.
- 67’ Teresa and Nahikari Garcia came on for Asllani and Maite Oroz.
- 71’ Real Madrid took advantage of a mistake and opened the scoring. Oihane Valdezate played a soft back intended for her goalkeeper Mariasun Quiñones. Athenea ran onto it. Quiñones tried to slide and challenge Athenea but the ball looped into the back of the net and Las Blancas had the lead.
- Nahikari was brought down in the box and appealed for a penalty but the referee waved play on.
- 86’ Esther turned and played it to Zornoza. The midfielder slipped Nahikari in behind and she scooped it expertly over the keeper and into the back of the net.
- 89’ Real Madrid nearly made it 3-0. Athenea crossed to Teresa, who made a late run into the box. Teresa tried to hit her first-time shot in at the back post but steered it just wide.
- 90+1’ Olga Carmona, Lucia Rodriguez and Claudia Florentino came on for Kenti Robles, Ivana Andres and Esther.
- 90+1’ Misa made a great save to deny Athletic Club and ensure the 2-0 win.
Real Madrid Femenino will play rivals Atletico de Madrid in the rescheduled Derbi Madrileña on Wednesday, March 9. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CEST).