Athletic Club has achieved its first victory after defeating Levante by 1-2 in the fourth…
Athletic Club has achieved its first victory after defeating Levante by 1-2 in the fourth matchday of the current Liga. Rigano scored the local’s goal and Aduriz both goals for Athletic Club. Adding three away points is not a bad start to a difficult week; this allows us a certain degree of composure in this evened out competition, mainly when Atlético Madrid visits La Catedral on Wednesday.
And there’s nothing better than some pain and suffering until the last moment to fairly assess this first meet with a victory, with an apparently improvable game but an optimal result. Athletic Club had their opportunities to sentence the game and have their tea in the changing rooms; however , at times, Levante was deserving to score in one-on-ones as in threes, since they verged on Iraizoz’ goal more easily than hoped for on several occasions in the first half.
The match began without surprises in Athletic Club’s alignment, with respect to what had been practised the previous evening. For Levante, the pre-match wasn’t as good. Alvaro suffered an injury in the warm-ups, and was substituted by Serrano. On a slippery turf, that has perfectly withstood the preceding day’s rains, the rojiblancos came out with the intention to take command; however, the first attack by Levante in the minute seven marked what was to be the tendency of the host’s danger: attack down the right and crosses to the area. On this occasion, Juanma centred to Rigano for the shoot on goal, but he barely missed wide. A minute later, Ohio opened up a ball down the left and Asier Del Horno crossed to the centre of the goal area, where Aduriz perfectly brought down the ball with his chest to slip it past the goalie with his left for the score.
The goal left Levante affected, but our team only created danger on one occasion when Susaeta shot over the crossbar in the 12th minute. Unfortunately, the attack in particular and the team in general have been barren until almost the halftime whistle. With no ball possessions or criterion to put the pressure on, Levante had it all too easy. In the minute 45, a shot by Aduriz reached David Lopez, who since just before the half-hour had changed position with Susaeta. He went all the way into the area and his back pass, shot on goal by Aduriz, rebounded twice against Storari’s body.
Between both offensive plays Levante added its own pressure. It’s the same old question: The merit of some or demerit of others? Savio shot a free-kick in the minute 18. Riga had a shot at goal in the 24th, to which Iraizoz responded very well, but the later cross was headed in by Rigano and Amorebieta had to ward off from under the woods. Bruno volleyed high in the 28th, and although the rate of occasions mitigated, Miguel Angel headed out in the 43rd minute. We had the advantage at the break, but a very long second half was yet to come.
Aduriz had his chance with a header in the minute 53 and Levante had more difficulty creating danger. Abel started to make his moves and introduced Viqueira for Berson in the 54th, in the 56 Muñoz replaced Murillo; substitutions which caused no major change in tactics. More dangerous was the introduction of Geijo in for Descarga in the 61st minute, placing Juanma in the right wing and Riga down that same wing but on the attack. At times the hosts took up a 3-4-3 formation. In our team, Cuéllar substituted Susaeta in the minute 63, with David Lopez once again taking the left and the recently incorporated the right wing.
Levante kept pressuring, though no real danger, until the minute 68 when Del Horno handed the ball while trying to cup a rival’s header set up.
A penalty Rigano couldn’t convert as he sent it to the crossbar. It was a sign that it was now or never for the first league victory. Pedro Leon replaced Riga, who was being criticized from the stands, and shortly after, in the minute 74, Aduriz scored the much awaited 0-2, to bring peace of mind; at least on the scoreboard, because the play has exasperated some Levante players and spectators. Aduriz disputed a ball with Bruno in the Levante midfield and the defence remained on the ground. Cuéllar recovered the ball and sent it deep for Aduriz, who held on and whose line-drive shot hit a defender and surpassed Storari, who was the first to complain, considering that Aduriz should have kicked the ball out of play.
The play, like all, could raise multiple interpretations, but for a long time we have reflected in this site the necessity that it be the referees who unify the guidelines to follow and regulate this type of situation so given to rogue behaviour. Aduriz didn’t realise what had happened, as he stated to the media, and even apologised to the players and ‘granota’ fans; all after watching the isolated play.
But a match is on the whole and just a few minutes earlier we can rescue a play in which Geijo’s head and Ocio’s face impacted at the edge of Athletic’s area, in which the defender was also down on the ground, but Levante continued the play all the way to the opposite end from where Riga shot on goal and Iraizoz was able to save. No one protested, except for when Ocio was tended to and even when he left the field for a few minutes as he felt dizzy. An episode that Abel Resinos could have considered when, after the match, he spoke of lack of sportsmanship. If Levante had scored a goal in that play, surely nothing would have happened.
With the 0-2, Vélez came in for Llorente. However, Levante didn’t seize in their effort and in the minute 78 a cross by Pedro Leon was headed into the net by Rigano. Besides adding more emotion to the scoreboard, three local players pulled out their fair-play and took advantage of the situation to give Javi Martinez what he had coming as he went to pick up the ball that was in the goal area. Special attention would definitely deserve Pedro Leon’s behaviour, who was apparently going “to recover” the ball from outside the goal area and who took advantage of the circumstance to send a message to our player, who complained of light-headedness after the play.
It seemed like the most difficult moment, but now the team did react with unity, moved better and with more ball possession and even generated two clear goal options. The first came with an individual play by Vélez, in the minute 85, who crossed dead centre into the area however, neither Cuéllar, on a first try, nor Muñoz were able to convert the goal. The second try, a free-kick by David Lopez in the minute 91. Despite it all, peace of mind was an unattainable luxury as Rigano finished off with a header just over the crossbar in the 92, and Amorebieta was sent off with a direct red in the 95.
Three golden points that help think about correcting errors and continue building a team with guarantees, but from a composed stand point. To achieve this, our fans wouldn’t be bad allies on Wednesday against Atlético Madrid; a meet in which we need warmth and a cold heart from the stands as well. Let’s hope the winning streak lasts.