Athletic Club has lost 1-0 to Villarreal after playing a decent game, especially in the…
Athletic Club has lost 1-0 to Villarreal after playing a decent game, especially in the first half. Nevertheless, and it is not the first time, the image and the merits haven’t gone hand in hand in the final score. The image, as good as it’s been, hasn’t been quite enough to go to the break with the deserved advantage on the scoreboard. In the second half, on the contrary, Villarreal took the weight of the match and Fuentes, in the minute 63, scored the winning goal. The later reaction wasn’t as energetic as it should have been and Athletic returns empty-handed.
The beginning was powerful and balanced. In the first minute, Joseba Etxeberria passed a pinpoint deep ball to Aduriz, who was covered by a defender, but in the face-off with Viera instead of shooting he opted for cutting inside and the goalkeeper blocked a clear goal option. What would seem an isolated play marked the tendency of the first half: pressure in the back by our team, good positioning and ball recoveries in danger zones.
Athletic has played without inhibitions before a team that, with today’s victory, has prevailed in thirteen of its last fourteen matches; stealing the ball from the opponent and in spite of a wide shot by Rossi in the 6th minute and a badly played option by Pires in the minute 15, perhaps in the only defensive misalignment of the first period, Villarreal was doomed to search for danger by means of a couple of distant shots by Cazorla and Senna, this last one in injury time.
The ‘but’ in game control has been double: to not score a goal and to waste many strategic plays, like, for example, the over a dozen corners in the first half alone. In spite of the grief and not counting the centres that waltzed past Viera’s area, the relation of arrivals is extensive. In the 8th, David Lopez shot from outside the area which Viera saved, Aduriz had the volley set to shoot in the 23rd, but a defender stuck his boot in to send it to corner. The same thing happened in the minute 28, when Cygan almost scored an own goal and in the 30th the same forward connected a header which Viera stopped. Once again Aduriz was the protagonist in the minute 35 when he shot a free-kick just over the crossbar and injured himself in the play, though he remained in the field.
Villarreal couldn’t find the way, but the break was reached on level terms. At the re-start, Josico stayed on the bench and Javi Venta replaced him on the right, changing Angel to the double pivot and Pellegrini choosing to switch the wingers, Pires to the right and Cazorla to the left. After several shots, Angel also took to the attack down the right, with Pires in the midfield, which caused superiority actions down our team’s left wing.
With Villarreal charging most of their game down the right on its attack, this posed great danger with numerous two-on-ones and perhaps also sought, without achieving it, the second yellow card for Del Horno.
That danger soon arrived: in the minute 46, Rossi shot, but Iraizoz made a great save. In the minute 52, Cazorla had a clear opportunity after a ‘deadly pass’ by Venta, but his shot on goal was deflected by Iraizoz.
Like during almost the whole match, our team’s option has been for Aduriz in the minute 55, but Viera blocked it. Villarreal charged once again by means of a header by Nihat in the 56th; shortly after Llorente substituted Vélez and Aduriz once again made the goalkeeper work.
Things appeared to have calmed down, but coming from a corner kick the rojiblancos have been incapable of deflecting the ball and, on Villarreal’s third attempt, Fuentes, who was still in the heart of the area, headed the ball past Iraizoz in the minute 63.
There was still a half hour left to do what the team had previously deserved, but perhaps Athletic lacked what was needed in the final stretch. In fact it had to leave more openings and Villarreal tried to settle the match by refreshing their front line with Franco in for Nihat, and in the 69th minute the referee disallowed a local goal for an apparent foul on Iraizoz.
In the 80th, Susaeta came in for Etxebe. Athletic regained the initiative, but the same thing that happened to its rival in the first half was now happening to them and, before the impossibility of going in deep; it’s been forced to shoot from a distance. Amorebieta made Viera intervene in the minute 74 and Javi Martinez’ shot on goal brushed the post.
The final minutes have been a chant to impotence and in the last sigh Rossi once again tested Iraizoz, but our goalie responded perfectly.
In the end, we take no points and as good vibes don’t add up, we’ll have to ratify them by defeating Almeria.