Athletic Club has defeated Levante UD by 1-0 thanks to the header scored by Llorente…
Athletic Club has defeated Levante UD by 1-0 thanks to the header scored by Llorente in the minute 56 of play. With this victory the team takes a breather in the table, now placed just two points ahead of the first team in relegation spots and because the victory has come after a heavy week when it comes to non-sporting events. Also, Athletic hasn’t allowed any goals and has won both matches disputed against Levante; therefore it would have an additional advantage, so far, in the improbable case of a final draw on points. Good plays were conspicuous by their absence for most of the game, but there have also been better matches without the three point compensation and, one more note, at least what seemed to have become tradition, that of being defeated by the last team on the table that visited San Mamés, did not repeat itself.
The match, despite the tight result, has been far from easy. For those that don’t know football other than in a collateral way the match was expected to be simple for the mere fact that the Levante players in addition to their precarious sporting situation are having problems collecting their wages. Crass error, but the Levante players have shown their professionalism. Well arranged, Alvaro, Miguel Angel and Iborra have formed, line by line, their backbone.
In spite of the attacking start, our team has been incapable of generating occasions during the first half hour, if we don’t count a good play and great centre by Llorente that Aitor Ramos hasn’t been able to finish off in the minute 10. Shortly after, Alvaro fell on the second forward’s ankle and in the minute 26 he had to be replaced by Aduriz.
At the half hour, a shot on goal by Yeste ended up crashing against the bar, David Lopez couldn’t finish the rebound well and in the end Alvaro snatched the ball from Aduriz when he was ready to shoot. Del Horno wasn’t able to turn his neck enough to finish off a header in the minute 35 and just before the break Llorente tried to head in a corner, but unluckily the ball crashed into the crossbar.
Without great domination, the scale could have shifted in Athletic’s favour. Levante, like our team, had greatly entrusted its capacity to creating dangerous plays from still balls and their chance on goal has been header by Alvaro from a free-kick in the minute 23, however, Del Horno blocked the ball from near the goalmouth.
In the second half, and without changes in the alignments, Javi Martinez shot on goal from outside the area in the minute 46, and in the 48 Levante had their clearest chance to take the match and, perhaps, start dreaming about salvation. A sideline serve was headed into the centre of the area where Miguel Angel appeared all alone, and suddenly time seemed to come to a halt in La Catedral, first when his ball crashed into the post and, later, when Courtois shot wide to the left.
Once that scare blew over the match was once again balanced, and with that balance the difficulties to take the match. Nevertheless and happily, in the 56th minute, a faulty serve by Kujovic was perfectly interpreted by our players. David Lopez tipped it first into the area where Aduriz, controlled and relaxed, raised his head to assist Llorente for the header to score against Levante, as he had already done in 2004-2005 when he scored his first Liga goal. Di Biasi, Levante’s Manager, called for an offside in the goal play, but Aduriz was well placed when the pass left David Lopez’s boot, and Llorente too was in-line when Aduriz centred the ball.
The most difficult appeared done, but immediately following Athletic Club hasn’t known how to close off the match and has suffered, not because of the goal occasions created by its rival, but because the ball has roamed excessively in Armando’s area. In the minute 60, Riga substituted Ettien, pairing off with Iborra and moving Pedro Leon to the right. Later, in the minute 66, Cuéllar returned from injury to replace David Lopez and the rojiblancos have entrusted a counter-play that never arrived.
Miguel Angel tested Armando in the minute 67 and shortly after, Saúl came in for Iborra, ruining our defence’s game down the left. Despite all this, the only clear option has been that of Llorente with a powerful header in the minute 78, but Kujovic made the save. Garmendia replaced Yeste in the minute 80 to reinforce the left wing and the minutes passed, though every foul was a ball to the area by the opponent and with it countless doses of anxiety even through the excessive five-minute injury time, especially if we compare them with prior precedents of extra time.
After the suffering, the relief hoping that, this time, the series of consecutive victories is extended, finally, to two.