Athletic Club and Real Racing Club reached a nil: nil draw and our team were…
Athletic Club and Real Racing Club reached a nil: nil draw and our team were able to come away with one point despite the fact that they had played for more than half the match with one player less. It’s obvious that our players still haven’t won a game at San Mamés, and that the risk of going down to second division still remains. It was also obvious our team’s lack of ideas in the first half a virtue we could do without, however, it’s obvious that our team gives 101 per cent on the field and knows how to overcome obstacles. It’s difficult to ask more of them when they have given it their all.
We can ask more of the referee however seeing that he is responsible for the administration of justice. This is what he said in April last year: ‘I’d like to remind everyone that only thieves steal things. We are dedicated to administering justice on the field and nothing more ‘.
Referees make mistakes, put their foot in it, errare humanum est, just like the players, the linesmen, and all those who are involved in football and people in general do. Nevertheless, we demand that justice should not be made with a bad memory. One of the causes of failure is not learning from the mistakes made in the past.
It’s perfectly right to say that the key to the clash, at least one of the them was the sending off of Gabilondo, an incident that stirred up spectators and players alike, and revived images of the past best forgotten in the referee’s mind. Two for example: when Oriol tackled and seriously injured Mikel Aranburu, who was on the side line for six months, and was only penalised with a throw in. Or what about, when Javi Navarro was allowed to play after having elbowed Mallorca player Arango almost killing him. Maybe for these reasons the referee reacted harshly on seeing Oriol being knocked down by Gabilondo. However, the player from Donosti came in late, he went for the ball with both feet on the turf and made the rival player trip. All of which caused the referee to hastily take out a red card from his back pocket. The match was certainly not over and done with then and there but for obvious reasons the referee’s decision conditioned the rest of the match.
It was as though the referee himself had realized that he had acted prematurely, because almost immediately he had another opportunity to impart justice. It was the 43rd minute and the referee did not punish Antonio Tomás whose tackle deserved a yellow card, and to make things worse it would have been his second as he had already been given one in the 15th. The referee didn’t dare and Portugal then decided to replace the player in light of the situation an action which was repeated when Felipe Melo got a yellow card in the second half, however, with Colsa the coach was not allowed to make his fourth substitution during the last minutes of the match.
And to top it all off the 57th minute; Luis Fernández brought Yeste to the ground but the referee ruled that it wasn’t a penalty and that Fran Yeste deserved a yellow card. It’s obvious that he has forgotten about the penalty that he awarded a few seasons ago in A Coruña, which is just as well.
Till now we have only made comments about the referee’s decisions and his memory, but despite all of this a match was played and it was clearly demonstrated that it is difficult to play when you are outnumbered. The same thing happened against Nástic, or in the match between Valencia and Espanyol or a few matches ago in the match played between Zaragoza and Betis.
A duel at San Mamés that was evenly matched until the sending off.
Athletic stepped onto the field with the fighting spirit and had even cornered their rival in their own area, what’s more Aduriz made a run which Gabilondo was not able to finish off. Nonetheless, the team from Cantrabria got a feel for the match and were calmer than our team which allowed them to make some good combinations up front but Racing could not reap the rewards and in the first half only had one goal-scoring opportunity with a long shot at goal by Felipe Melo in the 29th minute which was caught by Lafuente.
Despite the numerous corners kicked by our team, there was an apparent lack of ideas on behalf of the Red/Whites and only a pass by Etxeberria in the 26th minute is worth mentioning. Furthermore, Aduriz preferred to control the ball rather than taking a shot at goal at the spur of the moment and his eventual attempt at goal was sent to corner.
In the first few minutes of the second half Racing dominated the game and Zigic took a shot in the 53rd minute which was caught by Lafuente, however, things were soon to change. Athletic were able to demonstrate that they could play in an orderly way with clear ideas despite being outnumbered. They took on a 4-3-2 approach and bore the brunt of the match right until the very end and even though the match was goalless, the fans appreciated the efforts made by the team and spurred on by the mistakes made by the referees really got into the match.
After the penalty committed against Yeste, Toño caught a foul shot kicked by Yeste in the 61st minute and two minutes later Llorente was sent in to replace Etxeberria with the aim of helping Aduriz, who was sent to cover the right wing, in attack. From there the striker was able to pass the ball to the centre and Yeste was able to hit the net with the ball in the 66th minute but from the outside. Llorente had an opportunity in the 77th minute but his line shot just missed.
In spite of the Red/White determination to take advantage of the fouls and corners, Racing left no gaps which meant that it was hard to take advantage of these. All the same our rivals were not able to respond despite the efforts of Portugal who tried to breathe some fresh air into his team by sending Balboa and Oscar Serrano to cover the wings. Athletic kept trying until the final whistle blow with a 4-2-3 approach with Urzaiz, Aduriz and Llorente together.
We still need points, but at least our team stood up in the defence department, they gave it their all on the field and one could say this was done honestly , and without signs of bad memory. Wish the same could be said for all the participants of this event.
In the Press Conference Room
In the Press Conference Room, Miguel Ángel Portugal spoke about how difficult it is to score a goal at San Mamés, he emphasized that a draw was a good result for his team, in light of the drive and fighting spirit shown by Athletic in the second half. He did not talk about the controversial moments of the match and he was not asked about them anyway.
On the other hand, Félix Sarriugarte, mentioned the lack of ideas when it came to moving the ball around as well as the better field position in the second half, he emphasized the support from the fans, despite the fact that no goals were scored. Concerning the controversial moments of the match, he said he thought the red card given to Gabilondo was excessive, that Antonio Tomás should of received his second yellow card and mentioned the penalty against Yeste, he summed up by saying that these decisions went against our interests. In the end he asked the members of the press to give their own opinions.