Athletic Club couldn’t reach their goal against Mallorca and thus were not able to get…
Athletic Club couldn’t reach their goal against Mallorca and thus were not able to get ahead with one match still remaining in the Copa round of 16. The one-all draw (Gabilondo and Maxi) obliges us to score more than one goal in the next match or to win this match by any means, however, seeing that many teams have a similar level not all is lost in the Copa competition.
Just like we said on Sunday, Athletic Club created many goal-scoring opportunities (and even scored a goal) but our rivals didn’t need many opportunities to even up the score. A trend in both the Copa encounter and the match against Celta.
Concerning the line up, Iraola returned to his place on the right wing, Amorebieta took Prieto’s place from the very start, Prieto being on the side line. Iturriaga in the pivot position making his debut as one of Athletic Club’s starting eleven players and, so too Etxeberria and Gabilondo who were also included in the starting eleven and who were sent to cover the wings. What’s more our team stepped onto the field with the Copa fighting spirit. Offensive, head high and with a lot of spark.
Mallorca were forced to stay behind and by the 3rd minute, apart from already having taken a corner shot, Aduriz was able to take a shot at goal after having intercepted a lob, however, his shot at goal sailed over the cross bar due to the pressure.
One could be forgiven for thinking that things had changed because even before the fifteen minute mark Athletic had already scored a goal. Gabilondo did a perfect slalom and guided the ball into the back of the net over Moyá’s head. It was minute 12 of the game and the player from Añorga was able to end his run of bad luck as this time the ball did not hit the posts, the Red-White eagerness was palpable once more and maybe the players sensed that they had the opportunity to end the match here. Yeste took a shot at goal in the 16th minute which was deflected to corner by Moyá, in the 28th minute Ramis touched the ball with his hand (similar to the time when Javi González was penalized at San Mamés some seasons ago) and almost immediately Yeste almost scores from a foul kicked from behind the half way line. Gabilondo had another go with a header in the 39th minute, however, the best goal-scoring opportunity of this half was had by Etxeberria, who after having received a long pass from Gabilondo took a shot at goal from the goal area line with his left, but Moyá was able to deflect the ball with his hand.
On behalf of Mallorca, the opportunities worth mentioning are as follows; a shot at goal by Víctor in the 6th minute which was caught by Lafuente and a Maxi header which missed its mark in the 34th minute. The Argentinean striker was luckier at the start of the second half in the 50th minute to be exact when he was able to score a goal with his head after having intercepted a great centre pass from the right wing by Kome. A good result with little effort could well describe the first hour of the encounter, and later, as far as Mallorca was concerned, and just as their coach admitted, their aim was not to lose and to score, which is logical in any important Copa elimination round. Everything seemed to be uphill from then on in the match just like our situation is now in the Copa competition.
There were no changes made during the break, the changes came afterwards. Jonás replaced Kome in the 60th minute and in minute 65 of the game Sarriugarte ordered a double substitution: Urzaiz and Dañobeitia were sent in to replace Etxeberria and Aduriz. Almost immediately, a new exhibition of skiing prowess, without snow of course, by Gabilondo who after already having done all the hard work had what seemed to be an easy shot at goal, but unfortunately his line shot ended up just missing by inches.
Mallorca also wanted to breathe some fresh air into their line up and sent Basinas in to replace Pereyra in the 69th minute which had a positive effect, just like the effect that our changes had on our team. Jankovic had a great opportunity with his line shot only just missing. Another opportunity came when Mallorca counter attacked midfield and even outnumbered our team, however, Jonás botched things up or maybe Sarriegi had something to do with it. Our opponents only looked dangerous on these two occasions, nevertheless as already said they did enough to reach a draw.
By the 74th minute both coaches had already made all the changes that are allowed. In the 74th Javi Martínez stepped in for the debutant Iturriaga and F. Navarro stepped in for Dorado. Gabilondo kept on trying to create goal-scoring opportunities and had a good one in the 80th minute when he took a shot at goal after having intercepted a pass kicked to the centre from the right side by Dañobeitia. He was in a good position but the shot at goal went astray.
In minute 89 of the game a rival defender almost did what we couldn’t do and almost scored a goal against his own team, but Moyá was on the ball. Just like our rival goalkeeper last Sunday, the goalkeeper of Mallorca did an excellent job throughout the entire match.
The match left a bitter after taste, a feeling shared by many of those who went to San Mamés despite the ungodly hour, but it also left a ray of hope that should be mentioned. Almost all the goal-scoring opportunities came about after a well-orchestrated manoeuvre. Something which goes against some of the things that was said after the Celta game e.g. that the goal-scoring opportunities only come about as a result of fouls etc. This is not necessarily a bad thing and against Mallorca many opportunities sprang from corners and/or foul shots taken from within the goal area to little or no avail however. The key to success is finding a balance.
The second Basque derby of the season is just around the corner, another good opportunity to get back into the swing of things in the League.