BARCELONA

Koeman praises Depay's show of character against Athletic

Memphis Depay was disappointed with his profligacy against Athletic Club but was the subject of praise from Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman.

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Koeman lauds Depay 'personality' but new man disappointed only to rescue point

Ronald Koeman had no complaints as Barcelona could only draw at Athletic Club on Saturday night, and praised his battling side and Memphis Depay in particular.

Depay scored his first official goal for the club 15 minutes from time at San Mamés to cancel out Iñigo Martínez's opener and secure a point. The Netherlands international became the first Barça player to have a goal involvement in each of his opening two LaLiga appearances (one goal, one assist) since Cesc Fàbregas and Alexis Sánchez both achieved the feat in 2011-12.

Yet Depay could have added to his tally as he squandered the best of his three chances – valued at 0.24 expected goals – four minutes from time. "I could have scored two goals," he told Barça TV. "In the end, I did it with the left. I am very pleased to have scored, for having scored my first goal, but disappointed not to have scored the second chance I had."

Koeman was pleased with Depay, however, adding: "He has scored a great goal and had a chance for another. We must highlight the attitude of the team after going a goal down. Memphis has effectiveness, speed, strength. He's a great player, that's why we've signed him. You have to have personality, here the demand is better and he takes it well."

Few chances

Despite Depay's late chance, Koeman suggested Barcelona would have been fortunate to win. They had 67.3% of the possession but just nine attempts to Athletic's 16. "We initially lacked calm and the ability to find the free man," the coach said. "We made mistakes and couldn't get out. Little by little we entered the game, we reacted well after the 1-0 and in the end we were better. We could even win, but maybe it would have been too much."

Barça had some issues at the back, with Eric García sent off late on after Gerard Piqué had departed with injury. In a worrying trend, this is the sixth time in Piqué's past 13 LaLiga starts he has failed to see out the full match, as many substitutions as in his previous 111 outings. But Koeman said Piqué's problem was "not serious and I hope he will be available for next week".