Athletic Club - Valencia CF
Matchday 33

Athletic Club - Valencia CF

Athletic Club
Athletic Club
Valencia CF
Valencia CF
  • 19' J.Martínez
  • 49'66' Llorente
  • 85' Iraola
  • 92' Aduriz
  • Villa 75'

LocationSan Mamés , Bilbo

Athletic Club 5 Valencia 1: A perfect night

Athletic Club defeated Valencia 5-1 (Javi Martinez, Llorente 2, Iraola and Aduriz; Villa the visitor)…

Athletic Club

Athletic Club defeated Valencia 5-1 (Javi Martinez, Llorente 2, Iraola and Aduriz; Villa the visitor) and in addition to completing a great night of football, our team has banished the qualification ghosts that could have appeared given the results of the day. The pace, the pressure, the grit, the courage and the desire have been seasoned with large doses of quality as evidenced by some of the goals. In the end there were five, but it could have been six if the assistant had not disallowed one scored by Etxeberria in which there was no infringement of position.

Five goals for our team are not the daily bread. At San Mamés you have to go back to the last century to find them in a league match (1998-1999 Athletic Club 5-Alavés 0, 1997-1998 Athletic Club 5-Mérida 1 and in 1996-1997 Athletic Club 6-Logroñés 0 and Athletic Club 5-Hércules 0) but not in the Cup, as the match against Lanzarote in 2004-2005 ended 6-0. Interestingly, away from home the memories are from this century with the 1-5 win over Osasuna in 2002-2003 and the unforgettable 1-7 win over Standard Liege in the 2004-05 UEFA Cup.

This time it was five goals against a Cup winners full of illustrious names in the world of football, although afflicted by similar ailments to those suffered by our team during the previous two campaigns. That is why some cries of “A Segunda” have not gone down well at San Mamés, despite the fact that they have been heard by our expeditionaries at numerous grounds, including Valencia. These are difficult times for any team and our fans have excelled cum laude in understanding the harshness of these situations.

For our part, after today’s three points, relegation is nine points away, Intertoto one point away, UEFA five points away and the Champions League nine points away. A reflection of the enormous balance that exists in this league. Five games to go with everything still open despite the undeniable difficulty of the remaining schedule.

Incidentally, Athletic have nipped in the bud the unfounded accusations made after the end, in Riazor, of the six-match unbeaten run. To insinuate or claim in this context that Athletic had practically let themselves go once they had reached 43 points (which, in the end, are still not enough) is just another example of the lack of balance that surrounds the football commentary in general and Athletic in particular. What yesterday was goodbye to European competitions today will be unbridled praise and the reappearance of objectives. And so it will be match by match. In the end, football is still football in defeats and victories.

And as it is football, Valencia surely didn’t expect the scolding they received at San Mamés. And even less so after the first few minutes, not because they deserved to go ahead, but because both teams showed too much respect for each other and almost identical doses of mistakes. Both wanted to, but both lost the ball without reaching the hot zones. In our team, moreover, Yeste, the man in charge of energising the group, was struggling with his right ankle and that slowed down the rhythm of the Red and Whites’ game too much.

However, Javi Martínez’s goal, with the inestimable collaboration of Albiol, in the 20th minute accentuated the tendencies. In Athletic the upward trend and in Valencia the downward one. Athletic put pace into the game, pressed unashamedly and apart from a well taken free kick by Villa, Los Ches did little else of danger in the whole of the first half. The 4-4-1 set up by Koeman could do little against the red and white order, but strangely our players wasted too many chances by trying difficult and spectacular plays.

With what now seems like a traditional half-time lead, the Red and Whites went in at the break and, therefore, with the usual doubt: would it be another second half full of suffering and hard defensive work? Valencia came on with Joaquín and Morientes in place of Maduro and Arizmendi. Gunpowder for a 4-4-2 formation. Theoretically, the gossips say that they prefer the players who were orange yesterday. At Athletic Club, Garmendia has replaced the injured Yeste.

The doubts were soon dispelled, as in the 47th minute Athletic produced a handkerchief move which, if it had been made by another team with more press, would have been covered in prime time. Iraola gave the ball in midfield to Etxeberria who passed to Susaeta, situated next to him, and the latter sent a long ball down the flank to Iraola who passed to Etxeberria who, before entering the box, sent it low and through the legs of an opponent to Llorente. The striker from Iruñea put the toe of his right foot in and the ball kissed the net. Two-nil.

Valencia did not give up and both Morientes, a low shot repelled by Armando, and Joaquín, a shot wide, tried their luck against an electric Athletic, more clever and lively than ever, as vertical as they were quick, and in the 66th minute they put the game to bed. A perfect through ball from Garmendia to Llorente started with an interrupted lob from the striker, but Mora couldn’t quite hold it and the rebound was put in by Llorente with a good turn of foot. Three-nil.

Edu replaced Mata and Valencia strengthened a little as Caparrós introduced Aduriz for Llorente. At that stage Villa reduced the deficit from a free-kick, with the invaluable help of Amorebieta. It was the 75th minute, but Athletic were in no mood for concessions and continued to press the accelerator. Etxeberria had a goal disallowed that would have been the cherry on top of his work between the lines today, but he continued to collaborate in the group task.

Iraola was rewarded with a goal in the 85th minute after the ball was once again circulated in a judicious manner. Iraola picked up the ball in his own half, gave it to Susaeta, the latter to Etxeberria and the striker’s deep pass was directed to Iraola who had not stopped going up and accompanying the play. After fighting the ball with a defender, it was low and left-footed. Four to one.

Aduriz also made the most of his minutes with numerous interventions, including a shot just wide after dribbling past Albiol, a pass to Etxeberria although the referee, at the request of the assistant, unfairly disallowed the play and a headed goal in stoppage time after Etxeberria’s third assist. Five to one.

A fair and deserved handing over to Valencia, even if Koeman added a note of humour by mentioning that Athletic had been more or less lucky to score five out of eight attempts. Now comes the visit of a leader who can be proclaimed mathematical champion at any moment. A date at the Santiago Bernabéu which, whatever happens on the scoreboard, will be a happy day if Carlos Gurpegi finally returns, as it seems, to the pitch. Where, and at the Bernabéu. Football has these things and, like those mentioned above, they will have to be taken as they come.