Athletic Club lost 4-3 at La Romareda against Zaragoza. Aduriz was the scorer of the…
Athletic Club lost 4-3 at La Romareda against Zaragoza. Aduriz was the scorer of the three goals, but all the virtues and faults shown were up against the disastrous performance of the referee Pino Zamorano, another example of the referee’s help that our club receives. Diego Milito, Diogo, Sergio García and Murillo own goal scored the home goals, all before half time.
There are three games to go and to get the points needed for salvation Athletic Club will have to show the determination, grit and dignity shown in today’s game, trying to avoid the mistakes that have led us to the positions we are in all season. It is a question of combining forces and arguments so that the positive sensations are contagious between now and the end of the season.
And to tell the truth, Athletic Club did not make a bad start at La Romareda and their 4-2-3-1 formation kept Zaragoza at bay, leaving them with little room for manoeuvre. In the back of their minds was the game a couple of weeks ago in Huelva, with no game, but a point in the bag.
In today’s game the team came out more forward, trying to carry the weight of the game and went in at half-time four goals down. In Huelva the team struggled to get the ball out of play properly and resorted to long clearances without much flair. Today we played down low, with a certain criteria, but play and points did not go hand in hand and unfortunately the reasons why we top the ranking of conceding teams were once again confirmed.
In the early stages the team came in from both flanks and in the 3rd minute Iraola came close to the opponent’s area. Zaragoza found it difficult to get past the midfield, although Diogo in the 5th minute showed what Zaragoza’s attacking arguments were going to be: unmarked, the ball behind the defence and quality. Aranzubia responded well.
However, Athletic had an almost greater impediment than Zaragoza, or at least a similar one, and this was the help given to our team by the referee. In the 10th minute a free kick by Prieto was not blocked by César and the ball was to be headed in by Aduriz, who was awarded a penalty, although the referee raised the flag for offside.
Possession belonged to Athletic and the goals belonged to Zaragoza. In a short space of time, minutes 15 and 18, both with little angle for the shot and both beautifully taken, with the impression that the defensive line could have done more. A tremendous blow against a team that is doing well and it didn’t get any worse because Sergio García couldn’t beat Aranzubia in a one-on-one in the 25th minute.
It was hard for Athletic, but they picked themselves up and in the 35th minute Aduriz got on the end of a long pass from Murillo, stole the ball from Sergio Fernández and scored past César. Almost in the next play it looked like we were watching the replay. It wasn’t, it was a clear penalty and a knock down by Serio Fernandez on Aduriz. It wasn’t called by a referee who was on top of his game, just as he hadn’t penalised an aggression from César on the striker, and Sergio García took advantage of the next play and a great pass from Aimar to score the 3-1. Another great goal and more or less contained rage for what could have been and wasn’t. Another hard blow increased by Murillo’s own goal on the stroke of half-time.
In the second half the question was whether Athletic would react. From the start Javi González replaced Amorebieta and in the 56th minute Etxeberria replaced a tired Javi Martínez. Iraola moved to the double pivot alongside Murillo and Yeste moved from the double pivot to the midfield, with Etxeberria moving to the right flank. The start of the half had not been very encouraging, as the desire to close the gap created spaces which, for example, Sergio García exploited in the 48th and 49th minutes, but between Aranzubia and Expósito, the danger was averted. A fifth goal would have been too much of a punishment and the collapse of a team that showed courage and grit in the face of adversity. Gabilondo, from outside the area, made César work in the 54th minute and Aranzubia’s face was able to keep out Sergio García’s lob on the hour mark.
From then on it was the visitors’ turn. After a header from Aduriz in the 62nd minute, Etxeberria’s shot in the 68th minute was met by an unsanctioned handball from an opposing defender. However, in the 71st minute, a good inside pass from Aduriz led to Etxeberria being awarded a penalty, but the referee ruled that a dribble by a striker on the goalkeeper on the edge of the penalty area was not an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the play ended with a yellow card for César and a penalty converted by Aduriz.
There was fear in the Mañas’ ranks, if only because of the tightness of the scoreline. Zaragoza had reacted with a shot wide from Milito in the 75th minute, but that feeling took hold in the 77th minute. Shortly before, César had deflected Yeste’s free-kick into the corner and Iraola’s corner was headed into the net by Aduriz.
However, Athletic were unable to make the breakthrough or did not let Zaragoza, led by technical and mostly experienced players, put the game to bed and even created danger through Aimar’s boots, with Aranzubia deflecting a corner in the 85th minute. Three minutes earlier, Llorente had come on in place of Gabilondo, but the danger was limited to several free-kicks that failed to find a finisher.
To make matters worse, the referee, both on and off the pitch, added a few more notes to the list of “help” for our team. In the 37th minute he went to the touchline and told the fourth official that the extension time was five minutes, which the referee showed in the 90th minute, but with the surprise that the referee made him reduce it to four minutes after a long break due to a tackle on Aimar and the mysterious withdrawal of the ball boys, perhaps for fear of the storm.
Off the pitch he had a very ugly detail. When writing up the minutes and in the midst of the referee-committee controversy, he used the phrase “for unsporting behaviour” to describe the reason for the cards given to the Zaragoza players, but referred to contempt for the referee in the case of Unai Expósito. Asked for such a difference, he has limited himself to urging Athletic Club to appeal the card.
It was not possible at La Romareda due to our own and others’ mistakes and we must all become even more aware of the importance of Sunday’s final at San Mamés against Mallorca, regardless of results at other grounds and in the hope of being a little luckier when it comes to receiving the much talked about “help” from the referees.