Athletic Club lost 1-3 against Sevilla in San Mamés. Aduriz scored the rojiblanco goal and…
Athletic Club lost 1-3 against Sevilla in San Mamés. Aduriz scored the rojiblanco goal and Luis Fabiano, on two occasions, and Martí scored for Sevilla.
If the match were not difficult enough beforehand, due to the situation of both teams on the table, one team in relegation spots at the start and the other fighting for the Liga, the first ten minutes became an insurmountable slab. The visiting team’s quality, bad luck and our team’s weakness came together all too quickly.
The first half displayed an Athletic that could not move the ball, with excessive long shots, almost always down the right; basically, their reach exceeded their grasp. In the second half, the pressure on the rival’s balls improved, the team was better positioned on the field, they increased the pace of the game and even their devotion seemed to intensify compared to that of the first half; so much so that for some minutes the impression was that the draw could arrive.
As soon as the team from Sevilla came out they set their boundaries with greater ball possession, verticality and criterion. On top of everything, five minutes later, their first approach was a goal: a magnificent centre by Kanouté was sent into the net by a Luis Fabiano header. Athletic’s response didn’t take long, but Urzaiz’ header was cleared by Poulsen from under the woodwork.
The nil to one was an enormous load; needless-to-say so was the nil to two, especially by how it came. The referee called Murillo for handling on a jump, Puerta wanted to throw the ball in quickly, but Martí asked him for calm. He took care of striking, but the ball, which was heading rather high, was suddenly lowered by the wind.
Lafuente’s progress did the rest. Discouragement spread through the red-white stands, however, in the 18th minute a good centre by Murillo from the right, the exclusively-used wing to reach the area, was finished off rather well from a header by Urzaiz, but Palop performed the stretch of the night.
The rival worried on a couple of occasions through Kanouté, although they always gave the impression of being able to make danger extremely easily. For the home team a pair of shots from outside the area by Orbaiz and Murillo was the only true danger for Palop, which gave a sampling of the ruling impotence on the attack.
At the break, Etxeberria replaced Amorebieta and Gabilondo was positioned as left winger, moving Yeste to the same side. Alves once again tried to repeat his teamwork with the wind in the 46th minute and from then until the 1-3 final all the goal occasions were for Athletic, though they continued to have difficulty turning attacks into goals.
As we pointed out before, Athletic Club improved the pressure before the rival balls, they occupied the field better, and they increased the pace of the match and made the ball circulate more consciously while becoming more convincing than before the break. It’s true that Sevilla may have felt comfortable having the advantage, but it also had it in the first half and in the second it wasn’t able to play the same.
Etxeberria from a volley, turned away by Palop with his fingertips, despite the referee’s decision to the contrary, Aduriz with a header and in another play on the half-turn by the same forward could have scored, but Aduriz, himself, was not able to do so until the 68th minute; the first time this season from a free-kick.
Yeste passed to the area, Prieto finished off with a header that hit the post and Aduriz sent the rebound crashing into the net. There was still time and yearning before a rival who seemed to realise the exhaustion and in which Juande Ramos brought in Renato for Kanouté and Alfaro for Hinkel; whereas for us, Garmendia returned to the team to occupy Javi Martinez’s position.
To complete the official substitutions, Sevilla brought Javi Navarro in for Drago to begin playing with three midfielders and keep Puerta back, while Sarriugarte introduced Llorente to replace Urzaiz with just over a quarter of an hour left to play.
The acquired risk caused the team to crack in two at times, but they persevered until the last minute. Ustaritz, in the minute 84, with a high shot and Gabilondo, in the minute 90 right into Palop’s hands, both from outside the area, came close to scoring, but Ustaritz’ muscular injury before the end of regulation time turned the hypothetical final offensive into a balsam for Sevilla who managed its advantage well and even scored a third goal after a counterattack culminated by Luis Fabiano in the minute 95.
Athletic Club is in relegation spots before their visit to the Bernabéu and will have to improve quite a bit to get out of there. The key and pending subject is in winning in San Mamés, something that hasn’t happened since the last match of the 2005-2006 season. It is urgent to win at home because of the importance of the points and because the fans long deserve it.
Against Sevilla, we must say, that the crowd didn’t succumb to the temptation of giving in to critics easily and in spite of the uphill start and the final outcome they were there for the team; it just couldn’t have been better, cheering at the worst moments and conscious of the difficult situation, something we should not confuse with weariness or lack of interest despite the fact that the game offered today was also not the one desired.
To ’round off’ an ill-fated day, we could grant the non-existent award for weekly madcap to the referee’s report. In it, he gathers the incident where Marcos Fidel Alvarez, Sevilla’s physical trainer -who is licensed but whose record has not yet been transacted-, which is why he was asked to leave the bench twice, addressed the crowd at the end of the match shouting ‘headed for Second, headed for Second’ and making obvious gestures with two fingers, that one must assume were in the form of a V.
For the good of Sevilla, we hope their spell is prolonged and that their recent titles and excellent team do not bury their historical memories filled with not-so-happy moments and manifestations so as to maintain the category of August 1995. If Fidel didn’t know it, someone please explain it to him and, if he already knew, someone please remind him.