Match Analysis: Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Shakhtar Donetsk

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Athletic Bilbao's goalless draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Athletic Bilbao and Shakhtar Donetsk played out a goalless draw in their opening Champions League group game this evening.

Chances were few and far between at San Mames with the best opening of the first half falling to Mikel Rico on seven minutes, but he failed to hit the target when picked out inside the box.

It was a similar story in the second 45, and neither side could find a way through to ensure that both went away with a point.

Below, Sports Mole takes a look at the key talking points from the stalemate.

Match statistics

Athletic Bilbao
Shots: 7
On target: 3
Possession: 46%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 12

Shakhtar Donetsk
Shots: 5
On target: 2
Possession: 54%
Corners: 6
Fouls: 14

Was the result fair?

Absolutely. In truth this was one of the worst games you will see all season in this competition, contested between two sides who between them had just five shots on goal in 90 minutes of football. The match actually started in a decent fashion, with Rico coming close to making the breakthrough on seven minutes when he was picked out inside the box.

It soon became apparent that neither side were able to make the most of possession out wide, however, with Bilbao in particular struggling to capitalise on the space afforded to them. A point apiece is by no means a terrible result for either team, but they may kick themselves should they miss out by a couple of points when it comes to the totting up procedure.

Athletic Bilbao's performance

It is easy to see why the Lions finished fourth in La Liga last season in terms of the understanding of their squad. When Rico pushed forward, Ander Iturraspe dropped deep, while Bilbao's full-backs and wingers also linked up well. It was when it came to creating a final product when the hosts were found wanting, though, and if they are to progress from the group stage then they must find a way of breaking sides down.

Shakhtar Donetsk's performance

It is easy for a neutral viewer to be critical of Shakhtar following a poor goalless draw, but it could be argued that Mircea Lucescu came with a strict gameplan which was executed brilliantly. The Ukrainian Premier League champions ensured from the off that their opponents would have no room to breathe at the back, closing down Athletic's defenders to ensure that they had to go long. A goal would have made things better, of course, yet a point on the round can be considered a positive result on the whole should they win their home games.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Douglas Costa: It is difficult to pick a man of the match, but Costa showed great commitment to the cause by tracking back regularly to deny Bilbao. One example being when Iker Muniain looked have have broken away in the second half as the hosts staged a counter-attack, only for the Brazilian to peg him back and win the ball.

Biggest gaffe

Taison was shown a yellow card on the 35-minute mark for simulation having tried to con the referee into awarding a penalty. It is never nice seeing a player go to ground without being touched, and the attacking midfielder was rightly cautioned.

Referee performance

Tasos Sidiropoulos had a fine game this evening, and got every single key talking point spot on. There was one major decision in particular to make when Aritz Aduriz went down in the box under an apparent shove from Yaroslav Rakitskiy, but it would have been harsh had the Greek official given it.

What next?

Athletic Bilbao: Next up for Bilbao in the Champions League is a trip to face BATE Borisov, who were convincingly beaten 6-0 by Porto earlier tonight. If that game is anything to go by then the Basque outfit should find chances easier to come by.

Shakhtar Donetsk: The Miners will be looking to extend their winning start to the domestic season when they take on Zorya on the weekend, while Porto await in the Champions League in two weeks' time.

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Athletic Bilbao's forward Aritz Aduriz celebrates with his teammates after scoring his second goal during the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg football match Athletic Bilbao vs SSC Napoli at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on August 27, 2014
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