Athletic were unable to bring home any points from Santander in their loss by 5-4…
Athletic were unable to bring home any points from Santander in their loss by 5-4 in a crazy match, especially in the second half, a reward-less affair for the team. The Red-Whites were ahead on two occasions, and were able to equalize the match (4-4) with only 8 minutes remaining and after being behind by 4-2, but unfortunately the fifth local goal was scored and this brought about the desperation of the Red-White players and fans, who had to console each other at the end of the encounter.
There are only ten matches left and the situation is identical, a victory would have meant peace of mind though only for the time being, more than anything another lost opportunity. The nerve and the commitment demonstrated in this match were great, the concentration and other facets need to be improved.
Prieto scored the first goal only 7 minutes into the game; Cristian Fernández equalized in the 58th minute, Etxeberria scored the second goal for the team in the 63rd minute; Garay scored the equalizing goal, as a result of a penalty, in the 65th minute; Zigic scored the third local goal in the 69th minute; Murillo scored a goal against his own team and Racing were 4-2 ahead on the scoreboard in the 77th minute; Etxeberria scored again which meant that our team were only one goal behind in the 79th minute; Iraola equalized the match at 4 goals each in the 82nd minute and then Zigic put an end to the match in the 87th minute.
The match offered two very different halves. In the first the defenders were by far superior and neither team looked dangerous. Both teams took advantage of the long pass and were content to wait for the second ball to make a move or to create more opportunities when finishing off the ball. Racing had the initiative, however, in no time at all Prieto made his comeback by scoring a goal from a foul shot. A prelude to things to come.
The Cantabrians, encouraged by their supporters who chanted “to Second Division” more than their team’s name, had two good goal-scoring opportunities soon afterwards:
Zigic whose shot at goal ended up being sent to corner in the 9th minute and a shot at goal taken by Balboa which sailed over the crossbar in the 11th minute. Ironically if we consider the final outcome, little else was done prior to the half time break. On behalf of our team only one goal-scoring opportunity by Urzaiz, which went over the crossbar in the 15th minute is worth mentioning, our work in the defence department was superior although this was to disappear later in the match.
The early stages of the start of the second half were a sign of things to come. An initial attack by Athletic ended up being a corner and the locals responded with a point-blank header by Munitis which was repelled by Aranzubia. In the 55th minute Llorente was sent in to replace Urzaiz meanwhile Racing kept turning the screws, this time by means of a volley by Garay which was once more deflected by Aranzubia. Nevertheless, in the 58th minute a corner shot was finished off easily by Cristian Fernández who had made his run from the halfway line. Our reaction was swift: long pass combed by Llorente with his head, Etxeberria’s control of the ball and his scoring of the line shot goal.
Without a moment’s rest Serrano positioned himself on the left and was brought down by Murillo, resulting in a penalty which was debatable. Garay beat Aranzubia from a distance of eleven metres, despite the fact that the goalkeeper guessed right the direction of the strong shot at goal.
Back to the drawing board. Yeste stepped in for Gabilondo in minute 66 of the game, but Racing were still firing away and Athletic seemed to have thrown in the towel. A Zigic header found the back of the net easily in the 69th minute after having intercepted a pass to the centre from the right wing. Followed by the longest period without a goal being scored since the beginning of the second half, Garmendia replaced Javi Martínez and to make things worse, Murillo involuntarily gave Racing their fourth goal in the 77th minute, after a header by the omnipresent Zigic rebounded off the player’s body.
In middle of the strife Etxeberria stepped forward and spurred on our team by intercepting a pass and finishing it off with a lot of skill with the left. The Athletic renaissance and then Iraola found the back net after having gathered up a loose ball which all started with a foul. There were only eight minutes left and the team were faced with the usual dilemma: should we go after the match or hold tight behind? It didn’t seem as though Athletic were well versed in holding tight and they kept their sights high. Racing seemed to have been affected by the come back, but in the 87th minute were able to find a gap all too easily and Zigic was merciless. Despite the blow our public and our players did not give up and created two more goal-scoring opportunities: a shot at goal from the centre by Iraola which ended up being sent to corner and a shot at goal by Garmendia which just missed.
Knocked down and with no choice but to get up again. The possibility of our team staying in the first division is still alive and in order to do so the avalanche of goals which condemns them match after match must stop. At least we know that the team can also score goals and now await their next challenge Valencia. Needless to say that the role of the fans will also be a deciding factor. The thousands of Athletic supporters who were present for the match at the Sardinero have once more set their sights high and a win, which would bring so much joy, is much needed. The sooner the better. It’s vital.