Athletic Club were defeated by Celta de Vigo by 0-1 and therefore were unable to…
Athletic Club were defeated by Celta de Vigo by 0-1 and therefore were unable to take home the points that would have allowed the team to climb up the league ladder. Baiano scored only five minutes into the match and almost without meaning to and, from that moment on the fate of the team in light blue were in Pinto’s hands. Celta were not able to score another goal because it was made impossible for them to do so. Athletic Club made the necessary efforts and deserved to end the match with at least one point, but after having practically given the goal to our opponents they found themselves up against Pinto.
Compared with the other home games this season and keeping in mind the injuries, the bothersome southern wind and the traditional rivalry between the two clubs as well as the nervousness of our players and those in the stands, one could say that the team played better despite not being able to get it right.
At the end of the match Rival Coach Fernando Vázquez, admitted that despite our team’s efforts, Pinto played a decisive role in preventing Athletic from being ahead on the scoreboard and drawing after his team had scored the only goal of the encounter.
Athletic did well in the team work department and had the fighting spirit right from the start. The 4-4-2 approach consisted of Llorente and Aduriz on either end, Murillo and Javi Martínez as the pivots and Expósito and Casas as the wing defence, the latter combination being a first.
Iraola had the first goal-scoring opportunity, but under pressure sent the ball over the cross bar in the 3rd minute. Two minutes later Celta, who had difficulties in crossing the halfway line, found themselves ahead by 0-1 which was enough to win the match. A foul shot from the left was combed by Prieto who in an attempt to clear the ball impeded Sarriegi from doing a better job. As bad luck would have it the ball was intercepted by Baiano, who almost without meaning to struck the ball with his thigh with such luck that the ball found the back of the Red-White net.
Athletic’s response was quick with Yeste taking a foul shot which was stopped by Pinto in the 13th minute, and one minute later when he stopped another goal from being scored by Iraola, who was unable to twist his right foot enough to make his shot find the back of the net.
Later the match was more even, the rojiblancos had difficulty in breaking our rival’s strong defence and Celta were unable to put the pressure on Lafuente. The only highlight of this period being a high volley by Nené in the 23rd minute.
As a preview of what was to come in the second half, Pinto outdid himself once more when he spoiled Yeste’s shot at goal, which was the result of a foul committed in the extra time period of the first half.
During the break an injured Prieto was replaced by Amorebieta, however, the match did not change in any way; the Red-Whites continued to attack and waste goal-scoring opportunities like the one in the 49th minute when a header by Aduriz missed its mark.
Celta decided not to risk things too much and were quite at ease when facing the Red-White attack, which was off mark on some occasions. Looking for more bite upfront Urzaiz was sent in to replace Llorente in minute 56 of the game and Etxeberria stepped in for Expósito in the 70th. Soon afterwards a run from the right by Etxeberria could not be finished off by Urzaiz because of Pinto and, later Murillo, who had already tried several times from outside the goal area, caused the goalkeeper to intervene yet again. One minute later Urzaiz’s shot at goal went out after having received a pass from Aduriz and, in the 79th minute Pinto made the best block of the night when he was able to block a great volley kicked by Yeste, who took advantage of a pass to the centre by Casas, the Andalusian goalkeeper was able to show off his feline reflexes and repel the ball. Despite all of this, our team never gave up and tried their best right to the very end. During extra time a shot at goal by Murillo was deflected by a defender with his hands causing the ball to rebound, this enabled Etxeberria to take a shot at goal but Pinto would have nothing of it. As if this were not enough, and putting another feather in his cap the goalkeeper was able to catch a header by Urzaiz into the 93rd minute, which was the last minute of the extra time period, which was authorized by the referee to make up for all the lost time on field during the encounter.
What about Celta? Trenched in. The three changes made by our opponents were done to strengthen their strategic defence: Guayre sent in for Nené, then Aspas replaced Baiano and it seems that Tamas stepped in for the injured Argentinian Placente. Echoing once again the comments made by Celta’s coach, who said that his team’s triumph was not the result of talent, but the result of good organization, hard work and their efforts made in the defence department. An unpopular tactic in theory, but as good as any other. As shown in the match in Balaídos last season.
The highlight of the match was; our fighting spirit, the fact that our team never stopped fighting, the goal-scoring opportunities created by them and the support from our fans in the stands. Nevertheless, it seems quite easy to whistle in disgust at several of our players on our very own field and, this has never been a good sign.
We hope that next Wednesday’s Copa match will end up being our first victory at home this season, it’s about time.