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Dogged Kiryat Shmona resist Athletic onslaught

Athletic Club 1-1 Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC
The Israeli champions withstood a barrage of Fernando Llorente-inspired second-half pressure to claim a surprise Group I draw.

Adrian Rochet puts Hapoel in front
Adrian Rochet puts Hapoel in front ©AFP/Getty Images

Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC withstood Fernando Llorente and a barrage of second-half pressure to claim a surprise 1-1 draw with last season's UEFA Europa League runners-up Athletic Club.

The Israeli champions were on the back foot throughout in Bilbao but took the lead through Adrian Rochet in their first forward foray on 14 minutes. Markel Susaeta equalised before the interval and half-time substitute Llorente looked set to tip the scales in their favour as he bossed the remainder of the game, but ultimately without reward as Kiryat Shmona held on.

Athletic had conceded 18 goals in eight games this season going into the Group I opener and any aspirations of shoring things up here were soon in tatters. Rochet, captaining his home-town club on their UEFA group stage debut, did the damage with a hopeful shot that took a telling deflection off László Lencse before sailing past the wrong-footed Gorka Iraizoz.

Athletic had already been knocking at the door, though, and soon they were hammering away at it; five minutes before half-time Susaeta, who had already hit both posts with a fine shot, blew it off its hinges. Ismael López's cross evaded everyone in a crowded box before arriving perfectly at the feet of Susaeta, who drilled in comprehensively. It was the hosts' 11th shot of the half; Hapoel had still only mustered one.

It was a similar ratio after the restart, with Llorente responsible for the majority – the Spain forward was irresistible. Time and again he rose highest and turned fastest in the box, but he could never quite evade Daniel Amos; memorably so nine minutes from time when the goalkeeper brilliantly clawed away his header. Even when Llorente did beat him, just after coming on, the crossbar came to Kiryat Shmona's rescue.