Athletic Club has taken an important step in the right direction after defeating Atlético de…
Athletic Club has taken an important step in the right direction after defeating Atlético de Madrid by 1-2; and thanks to the three points the victory brings us closer to that necessary peace of mind in the table. The local goal has been granted to Agüero, though it appeared to have been scored by Antonio Lopez, and Susaeta and Llorente have been the authors of our team’s goals; all three goals were scored during the first half of the match.
A new step by the rojiblancos in order to grow as a team after achieving two consecutive wins for the first time in the current Liga, besides overcoming an adverse marker and, meanwhile, ending the negative streak of many seasons without winning in Vicente Calderón; so much so that Etxeberria was the sole ‘survivor’ from that team. A bit in the style of what was done in Valencia. The Manager too has ended the negative streak, since he’d never won with Medina Cantalejo as the referee. Several circumstances and a fact, tonight the relegation zone is five points away and there are still eleven teams in the fight.
In spite of everything, the Liga doesn’t end here and after overcoming a rival who has ended the day, in spite of the defeat, in Champions League positions… the third on the table is coming to San Mamés, concretely Villarreal. As always, without losing perspective, we insist that this victory serves to dignify, as well as we possibly can, considering the classic and difficult field that it is, all that our team has achieved. Not in vain we will hear and read, at home and far from it, that the victory is more or less a graceful concession from a galactic rival overwhelmed by infinity of weaknesses. On the opposite pole, it happened to us after a complicated match against Levante and it turns out that of the last five Liga matches the current bottom team on the table has only lost once, against Athletic; a coincidence, of course.
The beginning of the game that closed the matchday indeed hasn’t been that hoped for before a rival who is rather destructive on the counter-attack. In the minute 5, the perspective was devastating. Armando had deflected a shot by Raul Garcia in the minute 2, but three minutes later a well-applied advantage rule by the referee was finished with a centre from Atlético’s right of the attack by Antonio Lopez, which wasn’t either ended by Agüero, nor cleared by Iraola and, after bouncing and taking speed, it went into the rojiblanca goalmouth. The 1-0 was already a reality independently of how or the author of the goal.
Tranquillity in the team coached by Aguirre, ready to play with room and madness in the stands, especially in the megaphone area which, with the advantage on the marker, have dedicated the following minutes to emphatically and exaggeratedly insulting while few were saved from the stake, with our player Carlos Gurpegi also the object of their literary creation, as if he didn’t already have to endure all the hell he’s been put through with the 2-year suspension.
Athletic Club went through some difficult minutes with its midfield unable to find the forwards and without being able to join the lines to press the colchonero’s transitions. In the minute 14, Javi Martinez gave some signs of life, the best was yet to come, but he barely arrived at a ball shot to the area from someone who was also not well appreciated by some of his fans, Abbiati.
In the minute 28, a shot by Llorente from outside the area was turned away to corner by Abbiati and in the 29th Amorebieta headed the ball into the crossbar. Nevertheless, Atlético’s danger was latent and in the 31st it took shape after a good collective play finished off by Luis Garcia with his left foot. The ball crashed against the crossbar and Armando was doubly scared as he felt certain discomfort which forced Aranzubia to warm up for some minutes in the second half.
Everything was still uphill, but Athletic was able to leave the match on track just before the break. In the minute 33, Yeste couldn’t find Llorente’s shot by a few centimetres in a frontal free-kick but Abbiati caught the ball. In the minute 39, we evidenced the play of the match. A free-kick into the area by Atlético de Madrid has been intercepted at the penalty spot by Javi Martinez who, without thinking about it twice, undertook a fast break slalom with left and right controls between local players to square the ball to Susaeta who, coldly enough, established the draw past the popularly denominated left wood; his fourth Liga goal.
Double entry compensation; on the one hand, considering the importance of the play and, on the other hand, to demonstrate that all teams, as happened to ours a couple of match days ago in Zaragoza, have similar goals scored on them when they don’t execute a strategic attack play with the necessary precision.
Atlético, quite evidently, didn’t contemplate that scenario and Aguirre’s players haven’t been able to create any danger until the break. Athletic, however, has been able to done its outmost in its desire to overcome. It hasn’t taken a step backwards and continued to persist. On this occasion it has managed to score in injury time after a foul once again executed by Yeste and a shot on goal by Llorente, who left at the same time as his defender with a difference of centimetres that would make any debate about his legal or illegal position unreal; fifth goal in the Liga.
There was elation at the break, but also conscious that matches are rather long on all fields, especially those of rivals with certain strength. At least Raul Garcia has cleared the way, to a certain extent, after being booked with his second yellow in the minute 51, however our team has known to skilfully manage the later situation and the colchoneros have seen their difficulty to create danger multiplied.
Aguirre decided to place Maxi more on the midfield and left the substitutions for later. Athletic then had its first turn of options to sentence the match. Yeste shot on goal from the edge of the area in the minute 56, but his shot was blocked by a defender. In the later centre, Antonio Lopez got hold of Aduriz, or at least that’s what the forward has protested. In the 57, finally, Aduriz himself shot on goal but wide.
Athletic Club started to pressure from the top and recovered several balls, increasing nervousness for the locals and impatience in the stands. A wide shot by Forlán from just outside the area in the minute 59 was the only true danger after the re-start. Later a clear free of sin aggression, in the form of an elbow by Pablo on Aduriz when the latter was going to shoot on goal, but the referee was watching the ball and didn’t call it. From what should have been a penalty and send-off we went to continue fighting to maintain the advantage.
All of it -that’s how football is- among the protests from the crowd due to the referee’s performance.
Finally, in the minute 68, the local manager decided to try to change things and brought in De las Cuevas to replace midfielder Eller, changing the format to a 3-4-2 which gave him the control and the initiative for a few minutes, also exempt from danger if we don’t count a shot by Maxi which Armando blocked in the minute 69. From then on and until the second round of options by the men donning the black kits, who yesterday hardly gave their rivals any options to stand, just one of Athletic’s problems during other encounters.
Things as they were, in the minute 70, Susaeta culminated a good individual play with one of the so-called ‘deadly passes’ to Yeste, who upon seeing he didn’t have the angle passed it on to Aduriz, with such bad luck that his shot was deflected by Pernía’s face. When coming out of the corner, Aduriz shot a header, but once again Abbiati deflected to corner. At that time it would be silly to deny that the idea that those who pardon end up paying in the form of a goal in their own flesh has crossed their mind.
To help avoid this, Etxeberria returned to the field of play in the minute 75 to substitute Aduriz. The minutes were being consumed with two scares by the rivals who only seemed to be able to make danger in strategic plays. In the first, Luis Garcia requested a penalty in the 81, but the referee, who was well positioned, did not consider it as such. In the second, a Chilean by Kun Agüero was deflected to corner by Armando. After his serve, Antonio Lopez has literally run over Amorebieta risking another red or yellow card, which in his case would have been his second. It seemed to be too many comings and goings for one same night.
To kill time, Ustaritz and Gabilondo replaced Orbaiz and Susaeta and the match has finished well. This is the second consecutive victory and two more points than those in the first round against the same rival. That’s a positive lucky streak that would be more than interesting to authenticate on Sunday against Villarreal. How things change in a week! Now, we can at least enjoy, with our feet firmly on the ground, but enjoy.