Athletic Club has achieved a golden victory in Anoeta after defeating Real Sociedad by two…
Athletic Club has achieved a golden victory in Anoeta after defeating Real Sociedad by two to nil; both goals the work of Iraola in the 12th and 68th minute. Three golden points that will help flee the hot relegation spots on the table, and more so if it is against a current direct rival in the competition. A victory; in spite of the injury plague which this time was extended to the Javiers. In its ‘day’, Javi Martinez and Javi Casas -this last one tried until almost kick off- have not lined-up; and another Javi, González this time, once again donned the kit on the left wing.
Above all the obstacles, Athletic Club showed the virtues of previous away matches with an organised defence and, when it wasn’t as much, with an inspired goalkeeper that even deflected a penalty by Xabi Prieto, who in turn had almost ten consecutive shots scored as well as a couple of very interesting hands. In second half, our team increased the pressure and hardly had any difficulties, better administering ball possession.
When all the match day results were known, another small step was taken: relegation is three points away, with two other teams following. However, Sunday’s visitor, Betis Balompié, is yet another direct rival which is why the encounter once again acquires significant importance. There is no time for relaxation.
And as a sample we have how our team faced a high-tension match, with even non-sports essentials and which had even been described in Donostia as a fixture far from being classified as a life-or-death match. Fortunately for everyone, sports in general and football in particular offer new opportunities to contradict, deny or redirect this type of statements. Just in case Athletic Club came out set on the match, letting the pressure consume the rival. Except for a counter-attack that Skoubo finished off in the minute 7 but that Aranzubia stopped, the initial attacks gave their fruit in the minute 12 when Iraola shot at goal a deflection by Bravo with his left and from the edge of the penalty area.
Real received the blow without knowing how to react, however near the half-hour of play, between Savio and the constant fouls in their favour, they were once again completely in the match. A corner taken by the Brazilian was combed by the near post and finished off by Lopez in the far post, but Aranzubia drew the ball from under the woods.
Athletic had more difficulties to strike back, but in one of them when Aduriz headed straight into Bravo, this one cleared the ball with his hand… outside the area. The card was yellow and the question diaphanous: Why wasn’t it red?
While the matter was being scrutinized, Savio centred again from the left and the ball hit Sarriegi’s arm which, though close to his body, moved violently after the leather hit him. Another question, if it is a penalty because of a voluntary hand, then why is it not a yellow card? We simply don’t know whether by whistling the penalty he wanted to silence critics, once and for all, as a result of the penalty he signalled in the first match day of the Liga. We know the shot was taken by Prieto, who had already scored ten consecutively, but, as it’s the same the world over, Aranzubia deflected.
Despite it all, Real continued pressing until the break. Their clearest opportunity came with a header by Juanito which Aranzubia stopped in the minute 35, after Yeste remained ‘hooked’ in an offside play.
With the break came the composure and when play resumed the rojiblancos came out with clearer ideas. A more advanced defensive line and the pressure further up top in order to block the rival’s balls forced Real Sociedad to play horizontally. For that reason the occasions, though not excessive, have been for our team; with a header by Garmendia that Bravo saved, a counter-attack that Aduriz finished off wide and the 0-2 scored by Iraola after a centre from Yeste, rejected by the defence, then controlled and shot at goal from a half volley by Iraola himself to establish a more comfortable lead.
Real was unable to react, both before and after. Lotina had tried it with a double substitution, Gari Uranga and Herrera in for Jesuli and Skoubo in the minute 61, and tried again later when he brought Aranburu in for Juanito in the minute 75. It was precisely that minute that the first substantial chance came from a free-kick toward goal by Savio which Aranzubia sent to corner; when the corner was taken, Lopez finished off the volley wide.
In our team, in the 61st minute, Gabilondo substituted Garmendia who took up the left wing, while Yeste took the midfield and Aduriz the right. In the minute 75, Llorente replaced Urzaiz and was able to enter the game and even make a great play by marking Iraola, but a defence deflected his shot to corner. Finally, Dañobeitia substituted Aduriz in the minute 88. Everyone have given their all in order to continue scaling this road that lends itself to be far-from-easy, but that will lead to better ways for the team to show the predisposition of Anoeta. It works on away matches, but San Mamés is still a pending subject and on Sunday we’ll be tested once again.