Athletic Club achieved a vital victory against Zaragoza (1-0) thanks to the goal scored by…
Athletic Club achieved a vital victory against Zaragoza (1-0) thanks to the goal scored by Yeste in the minute 75 of play. The three points give the team a breather with only two match days left in the league and with a tremendous mess in the relegation positions of the table. And that’s considering that the team was on the verge of losing out to pressure, but in the end this didn’t happen and, as a journalist in the press room mentioned, football has given Athletic Club back what it had undeservedly lost in the last match days.
Even though in the first leg Athletic Club did not deserve to lose in Zaragoza, yesterday it didn’t deserve to win the life or death match it was contending, however, in the end it did as we are already and unfortunately used to seeing this season, chock-full of suffering and with the spirit of the fans inaccessible to heartbreak.
And all despite the fact that from the first moment one could perceive that it was not our day. The team didn’t put on the pressure like other times and when it did it was too far back or it left evident imbalances in sight. Thanks to this, Zaragoza didn’t need to make extraordinary efforts to create danger; it sometimes seemed to do so involuntarily.
On the aforementioned, the suffering soon began thanks to Diego Milito, who in the minute 9 sent a cross to the post with his right from the left wing. In the minute 14, the same forward was alone before Lafuente and he finished off on the post, but the referee invalidated the play due to a non-existent offside. Matchday 36 hasn’t been too great for the referee and his assistants either.
Before the half hour of play, in the minute 27, Diego Milito again shot wide after a personal foul and to make matters worse, in the minute 32, Ewerthon appeared, however Lafuente deflected his centre-shot. What about Athletic Club? Very well, we’ll have to say. While in the stands enormous amounts of nerves and patience were consumed, something was expected from the team and they offered just that in the final minutes of the first half, especially as a result of the most controversial play of the game. A free kick was sent to the centre of the box from the second post by Lacruz and after Prieto headed the ball it bounced off Urzaiz who shot a strong volley that Ponzio removed with his hands, when it appeared to be a goal. The referee didn’t call it. Three minutes later Urzaiz finished off with a header, but straight into the hands of a well positioned César, and in the 39th Murillo’s shot from outside the box was off target.
If what was seen in the first half was not enough, both teams began the second half following the same chart. Zaragoza, which related well to the posts (in the 50th minute, Diego Milito once again shot at the post) and Athletic Club with the same doses of nervousness and lack of ideas. In the minute 53, Etxeberria substituted Guerrero and in the 57th his header went high and wide. Just an illusion because Zaragoza still had all the right conditions to execute the counter-attack, as Zapater did in the 60th minute, when his finish was saved by Lafuente; or the one-to-one with Ewerthon in the minute 67 that the goalkeeper deflected ‘in extremis’.
When Etxeberria was booked with a yellow card for simulating a penalty, according to the referee, was the only offensive baggage; however, Etxeberria himself carried out a dangerous play in the 73rd, a few minutes after Llorente substituted Amorebieta, Lacruz went on to the left wing, Iraola to the right and Etxeberria was placed in the line. Víctor wanted to refresh the attack and Lafita replaced Diego Milito, an anticipated breather, in the minute 74.
Everything was a prelude to the goal, in capital letters. As football had several pending accounts, it decided to adjust a couple of them simultaneously; with Llorente, for example. The forward from Pamplona has seen himself in the eye of the hurricane unwillingly: the media, San Mamés and even by the manager… Let us hope that the play that we are about to narrate accredits him of the characteristic that he never should have lost: to be an interesting player arisen from the Athletic Club reserve squads that should be taken care of and who should be expected to improve on a day-to-day basis, slowly but surely.
In the minute 75, Fernando received the cross from Yeste in left wing and decided to take on Milito, the brother of the one with the posts, and with a fancy right leg, left leg double dribble he took the ball through the little room there was between the defender and the goal; an operation he repeated with Ponzio to later raise his head and cross the ball back to Yeste so that he could send the ball into the net with his right. And the goal!!! The one of serenity, the one that undid the euphoria, the tears of the scorer and of others, the goal that lets us see some light at the end of the tunnel and not because the train is heading in our direction. The 1-0 was real and the team outdid themselves in the tremendous work of containment to keep it like gold in cloth.
Tiko replaced an exhausted Ustaritz and Murillo was changed to the centre; while for Zaragoza, Generelo and Aranzabal, respectively, came on for Zapater and Toledo. It was the first time Athletic Club had some room to run the counter and Llorente’s individual play and eventual header ended up over the crossbar. Finally, to recover what the good football of previous matchdays owed us Lafuente saved a shot at goal by Savio in the 89th minute; and suddenly the end, yes, one-nil!
Having seen Zaragoza’s game, at least the teams whose position in Primera Division is in danger due to the arrival of Deportivo Alavés, should have their worries eased when it comes to this weekend’s matches; though worse things have happened in football. For us, the next and, we hope, definitive final will be disputed in A Coruña.