Athletic Club have obtained their third consecutive victory in the League, an important triumph which…
Athletic Club have obtained their third consecutive victory in the League, an important triumph which will lead us down the road towards peace of mind, mathematically speaking of course, and also means that our team is in eighth place with the same number of points that allowed them to remain in First Division last season with still nine encounters still to go before the end of the League competition. Joseba Etxeberria scored the victorious goal in the first half, and it was his hundredth goal at Athletic Club (86 in the League, 10 in the Copa, 2 in the Champions League and another 2 in the UEFA Cup). However, the downside was Garmendia who had crashed into Pato and gave everyone a scare and who was subsequently injured, fortunately he is at home now, as well as the tenth yellow card awarded to Javi Martínez, who will miss the next match against Recreativo de Huelva.
The Red-Whites were superior overall in the match, especially during the first half when they imposed their will clearly on a team that’s hot at the moment and who, for some reason, had been on a winning streak of a dozen consecutive matches without a loss. The goal scoring opportunities were numerous prior to the half time break, but at the end of the first half the scoreboard only showed one-nil, the suffering along with the uncertainty of the scoreboard was in crescendo, especially after Garmendia was injured when the team had already made their three regulation substitutions.
Athletic tackled the clash as foreseen and as required: with feeling, trying to set the pace against a rival who has the blessed “burden” of competing in three competitions at the same time. Our objective achieved could be seen only two minutes into the game. In the ninth Llorente (100 matches on behalf of Athletic Club) finished off a pass sent by Susaeta but missed. In the 15th Pato showed off his skills to the public with the ball at his feet and far from the goal area, but Orbaiz’s deep shot at goal was saved by a defender from under the posts which led to a quarrel being had between the goalie and his team-mate Cotelo, however, the referee turned a blind eye. In the 17th minute Pato demonstrated that he also knew how to catch the ball between his legs hence preventing Susaeta from scoring after a good counterattack manoeuvre was conducted by Yeste. Pato outdid himself in the 21st minute repelling a shot at goal by Yeste, which in turn was sent over the crossbar by Llorente.
It was difficult for Getafe to keep possession of the ball for a reasonable length of time and let alone look dangerous, nevertheless they did show off some of their virtues, for example in the 22nd minute when Cortés took a crossed shot at goal which went out after a quick counterattack. This was a mere mirage, seeing that it was Athletic who kept on adding notches to their revolver until in the 28th minute, at last, they were able to get interest from their combined and vertical game. Besides, it was very clear that they knew how to handle the ball skilfully. The ball had gone from one side to the other, starting on the right, being passed along with patience by Yeste and Javi Martínez, who gave the ball to Del Horno so that the latter could kick it to the centre without stopping and thus allowing Etxeberria to put his foot in the right spot as you would expect a striker, who can smell a goal coming, to do. A hundred goals. Yesterday’s goal should serve so that the team can cut loose and, just like they did against Getafe; show everyone that a great job can be done using home-grown products.
After the goal, Athletic kept the initiative going right up to the half time break which meant that they had new opportunities just like the one Llorente had when finishing off with a deviated header the umpteenth pass to the centre from Susaeta who was on the right, in the 30th minute, or Javi Martínez whose shot at goal just scraped past the posts after having received a centre pass from Yeste in the 37th minute with Pato as guest and what about Yestes’s shot at goal, who without meaning to nor expecting to, struck Llorentes’ body in the 42nd minute..
A good first half; attack, coordination, pace, anticipation and pressure. A half with a lot of merits but with only a slight lead to show for it, the break meant it was time to put the cards on the table and face up to the desired but on the other hand feared challenge of being ahead on the scoreboard at break time. How are we going to tackle the second half? Or how are we going to maintain the lead with the least possible stress? To start with Athletic did a better job this time than they had on previous occasions, and to prove it Llorente with the absence of Pato had the opportunity to score a goal in minute 53 of the game, however, the ball hit the post.
Getafe had one of their three goal scoring opportunities of the second half one hour into the match, but Ustaritz saved the day by crossing in front of Casquero’s shot at goal. And now the team from Madrid had taken control of the encounter, but were lacking when it came to coming up with ideas on how to break the Athletic defence. Until extra time they were only able to create one good goal scoring opportunity, in the 66th minute when Uche intercepted a great pass from De la Red, but Aranzubia closed ranks and deflected the ball with his body. The goalkeeper, just in case someone has forgotten or is in doubt, is an Athletic Club player and does just this.
Sousa had already been sent in to replace Gavilán and Gabi, on this occasion with b, Gabilondo, gave Etxeberria a rest converting Yeste into the second forward. In this position Yeste had an opportunity in the 70th minute, but once more Pato was there, this time with the aid of this foot he was able to avoid the danger. New change. While Caparrós sent David López to replace Susaeta in the 73rd minute in order to put a halt to the runs made by Licht, Laudrup gave the order for Kepa to replace Belenguer in the 75th. An offensive and at the same time risky move. Three defenders and De la Red sent to cover the back.
Iraola took advantage of one of the gaps in the 79th and gave Pato a work out when taking a line shot with his left, a little tenser than he would have liked. Afterwards, Laudrup made changes to the right wing, Juanfran stepped in for Cotelo in the 82nd minute, and Garmendia stepped in for Yeste one minute later. Getafe tried harder but couldn’t push through despite having their three natural born strikers on field, but then Garmendia was forced to leave the field after his collision with Pato which left Athletic unprotected and even more so during the excessive extra time period which lasted five minutes. At the start of extra time and whilst our team’s players and the public were wishing that the clock would tick faster, Albin kicked a deep volley which slammed into the post. It would’ve been an unfair reward for the visiting team.
Our team, on the contrary, had no goals scored against them once again, which is significant, not just because there has been three different goalkeepers till now, but because the leaders Real Madrid have had the same number of goals scored against them as Athletic (28) and the team with the least number of goals scored against them is FC Barcelona, with a tally of 26.
Joy and peace of mind because the aim is not to be under stress and for the team to be more competent at San Mamés. Three consecutive victories, one match lost out of seven, ninth match day round without having a goal scored against us, seven points away the relegation spots and nine teams in the meantime. It’s time to live with less stress and consolidate our position definitely. Let’s see if we can maintain our good streak in Huelva.