Real Madrid dropped two points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga and things could have been even worse if not for super-sub Isco’s second half header.
He climbed off the bench to nod in Gareth Bale’s cross but there was no second Madrid goal and so Iker Muniain’s first half strike meant Real Madrid dropped their first points of the season.
‘A draw is never good,’ said Sergio Ramos. ‘We wanted all three but we had problems in the first half because of a lack of movement. The point seems like small reward.’
Isco came off the bench to head home an equaliser for Real Madrid as they saw their perfect La Liga start come to a halt
Isco guided a header into the far corner from a Gareth Bale cross with just under 30 minutes remaining against Athletic Bilbao
Bilbao players celebrate taking the lead in front of a raucous atmosphere at the San Mames Stadium on Saturday night
Iker Muniain put the Basque side in front after 32 minutes at San Mames Stadium when he bundles the ball across the line
Markel Susaeta’s cross was not properly dealt with by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Muniain converted into the net
Athletic Bilbao: Simon, De Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez, Yuri, Garcia Carrillo, Etxebarria (Rico 81), Susaeta, Garcia, Muniain (Capa 54), Williams (San Jose 76).
Subs not used: Aduriz, Balenziaga, Oleeaga, Nolaskoain.
Goals: Muniain 32
Booked: Alvarez, Garcia Carrillo, Capa, Yuri, Etxebarria, Simon
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric (Isco 61), Kroos, Ceballos (Casemiro 45), Bale (Vazquez 74), Benzema, Asensio.
Subs not used: Navas, Nacho, Mariano, Odriozola.
Goals: Isco 62
Booked: Carvajal, Vazquez
Referee: Jose Luiz Gonzalez
They had found it hard to break Athletic Bilbao down early on. One brilliantly flicked pass from Marcelo sent Marco Asensio through but he was offside.
Asensio was picking up from where he left off on international duty and he tested Unai Simon who saved well tipping over.
Athletic were snapping into tackles and for all that Marcelo was giving them problems down their right he was leaving space in behind that Markel Susaeta and Oscar de Marcos were capable of exposing.
They showed it on 32 minutes when De Marcos crossed and Muniain raced in front of Iñaki Williams to be first to the loose ball.
Williams needs a goal having not scored at home in the league since December 2016 but it was his team-mate who bundled it over the line.
The build up had been yet more proof of Real Madrid’s weakness down their left-hand side. Susaeta charged at the back-pedaling Marcelo. No one tracked the charge forward from right-back De Marcos and his quick, clever pull back was gift-wrapped for Muniain.
Athletic briefly felt they had doubled their lead but Raul Garcia was offside when he scored. There were no celebrations and no protests when the goal was ruled out.
Real Madrid’s defender Sergio Ramos battles for the ball with Athletic Bilbao’s forward Inaki Williams in the early stages
Luka Modric prepares to unleash a lofted pass as he looks to try and help Real get back into the game
Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric were powerless to prevent Muniain from opening the scoring from close range
Athletic Bilbao manager Eduardo Berizzo celebrates his side’s opening goal in the first-half of action
Simon was brilliant again just before the break when he saved from Luka Modric. There was no way through for Real Madrid and the young keeper was proving there is life after Kepa Arrizabalaga at San Mames.
Casemiro came on at half time to offer more balance to Real Madrid’s midfield. But Madrid’s defence still looked fragile. They were glad to see the back of goalscorer Munian who hobbled on 55 minutes.
Raul Garcia tried to con the referee feigning injury and when play continued Iñigo Martinez was exposed and had to foul Luka Modric.
Real Madrid’s Welsh winger Gareth Bale tries to get past Athletic Bilbao defender Yuri Berchiche down the right side
Marco Asensio tries to deliver a cross into the box but Bilbao defender Oscar de Marcos gets a block in
Real playmaker Daniel Ceballos vies with Athletic Bilbao defender Yeray Alvarez (L) and Susaeta but is brought down
Tempers flared in the early stages of the second-half with Casemiro and Dani Garcia squaring up to each other
From Bale’s free-kick Simon made the save but failed to hold the ball and Ramos was able to follow-up only to be denied by Simon again.
Modric was taken off to be replaced by Isco and it was with his first touch that he got Real Madrid back into the game.
Toni Kroos dropped a long pass in front of the galloping Bale. He let it bounce twice before whipping across the face of the Athletic goal. It was Isco-height and right on cue the midfielder arrived completely unmarked in centre-forward territory to nod it past Simon.
Former Atletico Madrid player Raul Garcia vented his anger at Carvajal as goalkeeper Unai Simon tried to get involved
Simon beats the onrushing Bale to a bouncing ball in the box as the Welshman endured a frustrating evening
The equaliser was Isco’s first goal of the season in four La Liga appearances
Ramos took over set piece duties from Bale midway through the second-half but blazed his effort high over the crossbar
Both teams made changes as they went for a late winner. Bale was replaced by Lucas Vazquez and Williams trotted off for Athletic. It had been his 34th home league games without scoring but he was applauded off by the superb home support.
Tempers flared as the clock ran down and with Raul Garcia going down everytime a Real Madrid player ran anywhere near him. Lucas Vazquez went in over the top and picking up a yellow card as he looked to make the most of a rare chance to impress Julen Lopetegui.
But he could not force the winner and Real Madrid were left to face the journey back to the capital with just a point. Madrid coach Lopetegui had embraced his former Spain Under-21 star Muniain before the game. His former pupil had ended his 100 per cent record as Real Madrid coach.