Athletic Club were unable to outdo Sevilla who are one of the most in form…
Athletic Club were unable to outdo Sevilla who are one of the most in form teams in Europe, if not the most, and who justifiably won the match at Sánchez Pizjuán by 4-1, despite the fact that at the half time break the score was the same as at the start of the match. In the second half and aided by a couple of calls they didn’t need, the local squad prevailed by taking perfect advantage of the spaces and the quality of their players. Kerzhakov, Puerta, Chevantón and Luis Fabiano scored on behalf of Sevilla, while Yeste was the scorer of Athletic’s only goal.
The match started off intensely as expected, a pressurizing Sevilla against a solid Athletic who were steadfast behind ready to counterattack. In the 7th minute Poulsen scored a goal which was annulled as the player was offside and resulted in the goalkeeper being injured, so much so that in the 30th minute he had to be replaced by Lafuente.
In the first 30 minutes of the clash there were only two note-worthy moments. The first a well orchestrated penalty awarded to Kerzhakov who was tackled by Yeste in the 9th minute, however, Luis Fabiano’s shot at goal struck the goalpost. The second was a nice pass by Gabilondo to Etxeberria in the 10th minute, but Etxeberria came up against Cobeño and the posts. In spite of the fact that Athletic did not leave Sevilla a lot of room to move, towards the end of the first half our team found it more and more difficult to control the ball and this made it impossible for them to counterattack which would have kept Sevilla alert.
On the contrary, the team under the wing of Juande Ramos found it easier and easier to reach Lafuente’s goal area by stealing possession of the ball in quite advanced positions. In the 40th minute Luis Fabiano did a half turn and finished the ball off, but the ball ended being a corner, in the 41st minute Lafuente deflected a good shot at goal taken by Kerhzakov and in the 44th minute a Poulsen header went astray.
The sole aim of the second half: to keep the match open for quite a few minutes so that the theoretical weariness of the local team would set in. Etxeberria had the first goal-scoring opportunity of the half in the 46th minute, the counterattack was finished off with a shot at goal which went straight to the hands of Cobeño, Sevilla sentenced the match three minutes later. In the 49th minute a good individual move by Luis Fabiano terminated with a drop shot by Kerhzakov and the Russian, who was in a dubious position, outdid Lafuente. A hard blow the team could not recover from seeing that soon afterwards, in the 53rd minute, the locals were ahead by 2-0.
This goal was not exempt from controversy as Luis Fabiano was offside and took advantage of his return to the “legitimate” zone which allowed Puerta to take a shot at goal. It looked as if the ball was going towards the centre but the ball was not struck well, and it scraped past the post which Lafuente should have covered. If at least these two dubious goals scored against us could be used, just as our coach said in the press conference room after having admitted that the local team played better, to put an end to the contrived load of rubbish being said about the alleged aid received by Athletic from the referees.
In contrast, these two goals just meant that it was impossible to win the match against an upright team, who were quick and took advantage of the spaces. With the match practically lost, Mané positioned his team using the 4-4-2 approach with Expósito on the right side, Iraola on the right wing and Amorebieta on the left side. What’s more he tried to stop the “bleeding” caused by Fabiano by making changes to the field positions of Prieto and Sarriegi. All in vain. The Red-Whites, at least, created two goal-scoring opportunities. One by Etxeberria whose shot at goal was repelled by Cobeño in the 56th minute and the other by Aduriz sixty seconds later, however, his header missed its mark. On behalf of Sevilla Hinkel replaced Navas in order to control the encounter even more and Kerhzakov had his last goal-scoring opportunity in the 64th minute, just before being replaced by Chevantón.
In an attempt to introduce freshness and goal-scoring ability into our team Ustaritz and Urzaiz were sent in to replace Gabilondo and Aduriz in the 67th minute. Ustaritz was positioned alongside Murillo in the double pivot position, but they hardly had time to work together when in the 68th minute Chevantón scored a goal with his shin from nearby resulting in the score being 3-0. Athletic did not give up, but the task was almost impossible to accomplish. Following the double goal-scoring opportunities had by Amorebieta and Urzaiz in the 74th minute, it was Yeste who in the 77th minute had slightly changed the overall score by heading the ball into the back of the net after having received a well measured centre pass from Iraola.
Sevilla were not too worried, and immediately responded. Chevantón’s shot at goal went high in the 78th minutes, Luis Fabiano intercepted a pass from Alves and scored their forth goal in the 81st minute and Chevantón fired away at the post in the 88th minute after having beaten Expósito.
It was almost impossible to score a goal and this should not be repeated during our next encounter if we wish to widen the gap at the bottom of the league ladder, which we do. The match was not a total loss but consolation won’t help us take home the points, this can only be done by defeating Real Madrid next Sunday. An attractive match for an infinity of reasons.