Athletic Club fell to a 3-2 defeat against Espanyol. The local’s goals were the work…
Athletic Club fell to a 3-2 defeat against Espanyol. The local’s goals were the work of Tamudo (2) and Pandiani, whereas for Athletic Club, Yeste, from a penalty, and Aduriz were the goal scorers.
As occurred just over a week ago in Valencia, in both cases the course of the match changed at the last minute for both teams, when everything seemed resolved; and in both cases it was the local team that believed it most.
In Mestalla, the locals thought they had the match under control, and then came the equaliser. In Montjuic, Espanyol didn’t have much faith in breaking the draw, but in the 94th minute, Pandiani did away with the Rojiblancos’ dream of obtaining a point on the table for the third consecutive matchday, second away. With the draw or without it, obviously worse without it, things are still as complicated, or worse, than the previous matchday.
The match can be divided and summarized in four phases: (1) during the first half Espanyol played better, however, Athletic played a good defence. (2) Athletic Club started the second half strong, it was ahead and, with the advantage, it allowed Espanyol to make some dangerous plays that would easily turn the marker around. (3) Athletic did what was most difficult and was able to score the equaliser soon after. (4) In spite of not staying back, the Rojiblancos received the winning goal in the last breath of the match.
As previously reviewed, in the first half the attack by our team practically shone for its absence and until Kameni deflected a shot by Aduriz after a good play with Yeste in the minute 41, the Rojiblanco approaches were reduced to two distant and high shots by Javi Martinez and Orbaiz. There weren’t many tensions at the back, although Espanyol did roam the area on numerous occasions. In the 11th minute, Tamudo barely missed a cross, in the 13th Tamudo again finished off a header that went high and, in the minute 27, Luis Garcia demanded a penalty in a doubtful play, however because of all the times he had faked a fall, the referee correctly interpreted that this was just one more in the series. A shot by Riera from outside the area, kept out by Lafuente in the minute 38, was the clearest occasion by Espanyol in the first half, to which one must also add an outside shot by Luis Garcia in the 44th minute.
The beginning of the second half has been quite different. Just when it got started, Yeste was nearly able to score but he didn’t have long to wait, since in the 47th minute Aduriz was the object of a penalty by Jarque. Goal by Yeste, but our team has that attribute -difficult things are easily done and vice versa- and they have returned to the well-known dynamics of previous seasons with a former manager on the visitor’s bench: to score and receive with delight.
In fact, Espanyol didn’t need much to shift the match in its favour. In the minute 54, Yeste stole a ball from Rufete, but lost it at midfield. Tamudo controlled a fortunate cross to the area that bounced off Ustaritz and comfortably scored. It was a hard blow even though Aduriz made Kameni work again in the 57th minute, since Tamudo was able to repeat in the 61st minute with a high header from Moises’ right cross while taking advantage of Sarriegi’s slip.
Immediately afterwards Etxeberria came on for Urzaiz, a predicted substitution. The team had more ball possession and suddenly the draw at two came, in the 68th minute to be more precise, after a play in which the Rojiblancos were able to move from sideline to sideline with relative ease. In the last opening, Javi Martinez passed to Gabilondo and the centre shot was cut short by Kameni. Aduriz, attentive to the rebound, shot on goal.
Once the most difficult was done our team did not stay back, perhaps conscious that a strong defence is not their forte, as Riera confirmed in the 70th minute when he took advantage of a play in which our team was breaking to slip into the left and shoot high.
Meanwhile, Athletic had difficulty shooting on goal, but it tried, and to a certain extent, was able to keep the ball away from its area. For Espanyol, Coro substituted Rufete in the minute 76 and Valverde’s players had their penultimate opportunity in the 83rd minute when Tamudo shot a header with everything in his favour. A minute later, Pandiani replaced Luis Garcia and Llorente substituted Aduriz; as had done Iturriaga for Yeste in the 90th minute. Under these circumstances and knowing the final outcome of the clash all interpretations summon up life and there will be those that believe, for example, that a defender for a forward would have been a suitable decision.
What is certain is that in the last quarter-hour Espanyol had disappeared from Lafuente’s area and the draw seemed to fall from its own weight, so much for the dynamics as for what was achieved by both teams during the clash. Nevertheless, as a result of a foul in the 94th minute our team was unable to keep away the danger and Riera shot a centre to Pandiani who slipped in the header for the third goal.
What’s worse is not the game that unfolded, which had its tones of grey and would have been the same no matter what the result, as happened the previous week without taking into account the final draw. What is worse is the effect of the end result on the lately fragile morale of the team. Looking at the calendar, on Sunday second-classified Sevilla arrives in Bilbao and that home win has to come soon, for the three points and so that our Athletic can prove to itself that it knows how to and that it can win matches before its supporters. All efforts are needed.