RC Deportivo VS Athletic Club 5/7/2006 | Athletic Club’s Official Website
Matchday 37

RC Deportivo1 : 2Athletic Club

A Coruña
9:00 PM
Date and time
5/7/2006 - 9:00 PM

Deportivo 1 Athletic Club 2: Absolute calm

Athletic Club is out of danger after defeating Deportivo (1-2) and achieving the goal set,…

May 7, 2006

Athletic Club is out of danger after defeating Deportivo (1-2) and achieving the goal set, modest in quantitative terms but important in qualitative terms, as demonstrated by the enormous joy that has gripped the red and white family.

The team has put an end to a seemingly chronic suffering. After Arizmendi’s goal in the 18th minute, at half-time the outlook was bleak and the outcome looked set to be delayed until the final matchday with all the inherent risks, as we experienced in the 1995-1996 season when promotion was at the door on the final day.

However, in the second half, goals by Casas in the 70th minute and Orbaiz, from the penalty spot in the 87th minute, made the victory possible. We had been glued to the radio for almost the entire campaign, consoling ourselves in the misery of others when the result was not positive and calculating the last possible combination when our own victories coincided with the outbursts of our rivals.

Yesterday’s match was the last date with what was happening on the other pitches, at least as far as this season is concerned, and for being the last one, it was a long one, as it started on Saturday. It started well, went wrong in the first half of the Sunday afternoon, improved afterwards and then turned dark at the end.

To sum up: before the rest of the matches were played, three points were needed for mathematical salvation and when Deportivo and Athletic Club kicked off the clash, one point was enough to achieve absolute peace of mind. A step forward but the risk was still the same one that hurt us so much against Zaragoza: the block of our own minds and legs.

And so it happened at the start. So much so that Deportivo went ahead on the scoreboard with practically nothing to do. Against Atlético de Madrid and Betis the same eleven players offered other performances, while yesterday only the idea of the match ending as soon as possible with the initial draw appeared on the horizon. Tristán latched onto a fierce shot from a loose ball on the by-line and although it was denied by Lafuente, the rebound found its way to Arizmendi who scored from close range.

The worst moments came for the team and for the fans, although Athletic Club’s best and only chances in the first half came almost immediately afterwards: an attempt by Orbaiz to surprise Molina in the 22nd minute and a lob by Yeste that went narrowly wide in the 26th minute. The rest of the half served to fuel despair and impotence as Deportivo gave the impression of letting themselves be carried away by the prevailing negative dynamic.

At half-time Etxeberria replaced Amorebieta and the team switched from a five-man defence to a 4-4-2 formation. The game became more balanced. At least Athletic Club had possession of the ball and Deportivo opted for the counter-attacking option, albeit with little skill. In spite of everything, the chances were non-existent and so it was very difficult, if not impossible, to tie the game, the only objective of yesterday, which in the process became the objective of the season.

Caparrós tried to revitalise his team with the almost simultaneous additions of Ivan Carril in place of Yago and Xisco for Tristán, but in vain. On the other hand, our team’s efforts paid off and Casas, completely unmarked, headed home from Yeste’s corner kick. In the First Division by the hand of mathematics, something that was already shown in the classification several matchdays ago but that had to be certified with figures. Almost immediately after, Tiko came on for Urzaiz and for Depor, Gallardo replaced Manuel Pablo.

The hosts’ response was sluggish, hampered by the expected red and white delay. In the midst of the suffering generated by the tension, Athletic gradually won the ball back and also managed to round off the night when the referee’s assistant saw the invisible in so many matches. In this case, it was a handball by Sergio when Yeste’s free-kick tried to go over the wall. The maximum penalty was taken and converted by Orbaiz despite Molina’s touch. All ghosts were put to rest.

Athletic Club did not want to wait, did not need to wait and did not deserve to wait. The suffering has come to an end and from this calmness it is necessary to look to the future with optimism and at the same time it is only fair to recognise the behaviour of the fans. Tremendous, impressive, exciting and necessary, almost essential, the role that our supporters have played everywhere in A Coruña and throughout the hard season, as shown by the group of fans waiting in Gasteiz for our team at 1 o’clock in the morning.

There is still one match day to go… but our red and white hearts will be beating at a normal rhythm.