Athletic Club were beaten by 3 goals to nil by Real Madrid, who have the…
Athletic Club were beaten by 3 goals to nil by Real Madrid, who have the League title within reach. Saviola, Robben and Higuain scored the goals. Just as it happened, on its day, to Carlos Gurpegi by way of sanction which has now reached an end, the punishment our team received today was excessive as both contenders had shown a lot of merit, although this concept does not go hand in hand with the results, for better or for worse. On the contrary, the simple comparison of the match held at Santiago Bernabéu with last week’s match, where a similar result was achieved, leaves us with the feeling that today’s result is simply too excessive and that Athletic Club had faced up to the situation as always and were superior in several stages of the clash.
Most importantly, beyond the much sought after and unattained result, it was without a doubt the return to the norm for Carlos Gurpegi. Athletic had a great person in its ranks and now has recovered a football player. He played for the entire ninety minutes on field, and ended up spent; he took part in good and bad plays, and it should be said that he didn’t pay too much attention to the parenthesis and that his return to the game could not be spoiled by the insults from the hooligans in minute 23 and 24 of the encounter. The lesser of two evils being that the vast majority of people in the stands recriminated them for their attitude.
In addition to the news of the day, Athletic demonstrated several things on the pitch. Two good things, the margin of improvement that the team has in light of the future and the criterion with which the team can move the ball, and something not so good, the high price to pay for their lack of concentration. Real Madrid, on the other hand, were not able to sing the alirón song, but had also shown a couple of things: the incessant damage in creating gaps and that Iker Casillas is an almost insurmountable barrier.
The initiative, as you would expect, belonged to the team from Madrid and after an attempt at goal by Garmendia from outside the area in the 13th minute the first local goal was soon to arrive. The worst case scenario had assigned Saviola the role of executioner, on the one hand for his token contribution to Real Madrid and, on the other hand, considering the statistical precedents against Athletic Club when he played for Barcelona. And the most negative of omens was fulfilled in the 14th minute. Armando cleared the ball after his one to one against Raúl, and then the ball was finished off by Sneijder, but the goalie was unable to retain the ball and Saviola finally scored the first goal. Our attempts to react were met with accurate counterstrokes given the local superiority that was created in the hot zones on field with Guti, Gago, and Sneijder who were more determined than ever and the fact that the entire right wing was almost exclusively for Sergio Ramos.
In the 26th minute Robinho gave Armando a work out and in the 27th Sergio Ramos’s header had gone astray. All of this took place before the electrifying home stretch towards the halftime break with opportunities to, still, even the score on the scoreboard.
Etxeberria finished off a foul kick with a header in the 29th minute, but Casillas had commenced his own particular recital. Four minutes later a foul from the left was kicked to the front where Etxeberria had stepped back so that Garmendia could hammer the ball home, however, once again Casillas outdid himself and sent it to corner. In the 36th minute a well-calculated pass from Gabilondo to Llorente ended when a defender brought the forward from Irun to the ground. Garmendia took the kick, but Casillas guessed right and deflected the ball to corner.
After this exciting feast, Saviola had a goal scoring opportunity, but his shot at goal in the 39th minute was repelled very well by Armando to corner. It was a nice match which honours the confrontations between two of the three classic teams of the League, with options, consistent plays from one end of the field to the other and a score of 1-0 at halftime which did not do justice to the efforts made by both teams.
In the second half, without any changes to the line up, Saviola’s shot at goal was saved by Armando, Athletic did a great job in the first fifteen minutes, but were unable to equalize the encounter. Their first two goal scoring opportunities made headlines, seeing that Iker Casillas did not take part in either of them. In the 52nd minute Gurpegi was close to making a glorious comeback, but his shot at goal on the half turn taken from the centre of the area just missed. In the 55th minute Susaeta fired away but his shot at goal went over the cross bar and one hour into the match a move by Susaeta was finished off by Iraola, however, a defender was able to send the ball to corner. In the 63rd minute David López replaced Etxeberria, positioning himself behind Fernando Llorente.
With the passing of time Real Madrid got a better field position and the Red-White switches were not so fluid. Despite all of this, and apart from a couple of inaccurate shots at goal by Sneijder and Guti, Armando only had to intervene in the 62nd minute when Gago had taken a shot at goal. In the 67th minute Casillas, who else, repelled a shot at goal taken by David López, who had previously intercepted a pass from Iraola which had too much angle on it.
Schuster made a double substitution in minute 72 of the game, Robben, the future champion was soon to reap the rewards, was sent in for Robinho and Raúl was replaced by Higuain. Susaeta left a rival behind in the opposite area, but couldn’t beat the second defender and the quick counterstroke by Higuain allowed him to kick it easily to the centre where Robben was waiting to score the second goal, the score now being 2-0.
Aduriz was ready to step onto the field to replace Gabilondo, and hardly had time to do so when he saw how Higuain had scored the third goal.
The match was drawing to an end, which was neither an obstacle nor hindrance for Iker Casillas to carry on doing what he does best. On this occasion the victim was Aduriz who had seen how a good header to the centre by Koikili was deflected by the goalkeeper.
Now it’s time to think about the next match, about Gurpegi’s return to San Mamés and about defeating Mallorca to confirm that results are achieved with fluidity and audacity. The Intertoto is only three points away and is still a possibility.