Rajković repels Bilbao in Basque Country

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Athletic Bilbao continued their solid form in LaLiga (LL) openers despite being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw with RCD Mallorca. The result, albeit unsatisfying, extended Los Leones’ record in the first game of the season to only a solitary defeat across the last six campaigns.

Hoping to continue their impressive form at the San Mamés after tasting defeat on only one occasion in their last nine home matches, the hosts gave Los Piratas an early let-off in the ninth minute when Mikel Vesga’s venomous strike flew off the post.

Following the reappointment of club legend Ernesto Valverde after the surprise resignation of Marcelino, the hosts dominated proceedings early on as Mallorca struggled to get a foothold in the one-sided affair. The visitors came into the encounter on the back of nine defeats in their last 12 trips to Basque Country, but they eventually began to find their feet, with Kang-in Lee looking the most likely candidate to unlock Athletic’s defence. Ultimately, though, Mallorca manager Javier Aguirre will have been relieved to hear the HT whistle.

The hosts continued where they left off at the start of the second period, penning their guests back in their own third. However, despite being in complete control of proceedings, Bilbao did not have Lady Luck on their side as Yuri Berchiche’s strike clattered the woodwork.

The San Mamés faithful breathed a collective sigh of relief in the 65th minute when the previously untested Unai Simón reacted spectacularly to deny Lee’s glancing header from nestling in the back of the net. The Mallorca recruitment team will have probably been patting themselves on the back when Predrag Rajković somehow managed to stop Gorka Guruzeta’s strike from trickling over the goalline in the final ten minutes.

In the end, Athletic were left thinking of what could have been after being repeatedly thwarted by Rajković. Meanwhile, Mallorca extended their unbeaten record to four matches, a run now stretching across two seasons.

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