Athletic Club was able to draw at one goal each on its visit to UD…
Athletic Club was able to draw at one goal each on its visit to UD Almeria. Nevertheless, our team has done all it could to deserve the three points on their visit to the Liga’s revelation team. Negredo from a penalty in the 52nd minute and Llorente, with a header, in the 73, have been the authors of the goals. All this in a match filled with yellow cards, eleven to be precise, and which leaves the negative balance of Yeste and Etxeberria each being booked with their fifth yellow cards.
Today’s meet reminded us, as it couldn’t be any other way, of the conclusion which the classification itself has destined for us, as in most matches of the current Liga: equality is the predominant trend. Almeria is eighth on the table, it will be saved from relegation by winning one out of twelve matches, but it hasn’t demonstrated to be superior to our team. What’s more, it only shot into the goalmouth once, concretely from a penalty that Negredo transformed for his team.
For their part, the rojiblancos have demonstrated that they can hold the ball, carry the initiative for much of the match and be regular for the majority of both halves, but they’ve run into their lack of aim and composure in some cases and the skill of Diego Alves in others.
During the first half, all the shots on goal, just as all the goal occasions, have been for Athletic. Almeria has demonstrated that it has players with technique and verticality; it almost always tried to look for it behind the defence down the right wing of its attack and, especially, by putting their heart and soul in strategic plays.
On the other hand, as previously reflected, the work has been for Diego Alves. Koikili’s shot was close in the minute 10, in the 22 a cross by Gabilondo was cleared short by Alves and the rebound was finished off by Yeste, although his clear and well-aimed shot found the hands of the goalkeeper when the goal was almost sung. Yeste himself tried it from outside the box in the 33 and Gabilondo’s shot in the 38 was saved by the goalkeeper.
With the sensation that, on the one hand, the prognosis of a closed match was being fulfilled and with both teams pressuring in the back and, on the other hand, there were founded options to take the three points if our success before the rival’s goal improved, our team retired to the break with, in view of other matches, the mystery of what it would confront in the second half.
This one has been positive. Without changes at start-up and leaving aside the second card, which wasn’t shown, that Melo deserved in the 52nd minute and the fifth yellow for Yeste, the first minutes left us the image of an Athletic willing to take control of the match.
As a sample, Gabilondo’s palpable option in the minute 55, after finishing off right in the goalmouth a precise pass from the right or Susaeta’s bad choice in the minute 56 after trying to shoot on goal with very little angle when Llorente from the penalty spot or Gabilondo, from the back, appeared to be better cross alternatives. Etxeberria was also booked with his fifth yellow and Emery began to make changes; Ortiz in for Ortiz, in the first place, then Soriano in for Melo to avoid expulsions. At that point, Almeria continued having few chances of taking the match.
Nevertheless and unfortunately, a fast counterattack by the recently entered Ortiz who took advantage of the laxity of a team wiped out by cards and, after a long run, Yeste brought down the opponent in the area. Penalty called and second yellow hanging in the wings, although in the end the goal transformation by Negredo in the minute 58 has been the ‘only” evil. Almeria had its most desired outcome, 1-0.
Athletic then showed that it has reaction capacity. The change of Orbaiz in for Javi Martinez in the minute 66 didn’t make bring differences to tactics and the team intensified its attack. It seemed that the equalizer was going to arrive in the minute 68 when Llorente stood alone in front of Alves, but the player from Irun decided not to pass to Gabilondo and his attempt to overtake Diego Alves ended up in a back pass to Etxeberria, who shot on goal, but the ball ran into defender’s knee. The ball didn’t leave Almeria’s side of the field, but the danger of the rival’s counter-plays was increasing.
In search of the draw, Aduriz came in to replace Etxeberria in the minute 72 and the equalizer arrived in the 73 after an opening from Orbaiz down the right wing for Susaeta who hit a not-so-simple header into the centre of the area where Llorente came in to finish off with a header. Alves tipped it, but not enough to avoid the goal.
After the equalizer, Athletic’s rush lasted until Kalu Uche replaced Corona in the minute 83, when Almeria decided to burn its last ships, canting once again toward strategic plays. Soriano with a header in the 87th minute and Uche, also with a header that Amorebieta blocked in the 89 and the later rebound which Bruno shot over the goal, have been the last local efforts to break the tie.
In the end one point that allows the team to stand with that difference over relegation after a matchday that once again makes things even tighter. We’ve tied with the Liga’s revelation team; while the rivals -when they fell against Athletic (Levante and Atlético Madrid to mention the last two cases) – wanted us to believe they were a crew, continue to value our victories even more.
And to finish off, a reflection on the number of cards shown in a match that didn’t give the impression of being rough enough to have seen eleven yellow cards, considering they weren’t evenly distributed (4 for Almeria and 7 for Athletic), there could have been more. In the qualitative aspect, we also came out loosing. For example, Bruno was pardoned a yellow in the minute 3, supposedly because it was too soon into the game, but it would have meant his send off in the minute 75. Melo could have seen his second yellow in the minute 52 and also Yeste in the penalty play; however Juanma Ortiz has had all the tickets in the first half after stepping on Ocio with no ball in the way. What can we do! We’ll continue to head the card rankings and drag that fame at least until the end of the season.
Now that Almeria has been left aside, we begin a new cycle with matches against direct rivals to try to escape relegation. The first meet will be on Sunday at 17:00 hours in San Mamés against Valladolid. We’re just one point apart and the team goal average is also at play. Let’s hope we can at least improve our aim.