Athletic Club lost 1-2 against RCD Mallorca. Llorente obtained the goal for Athletic and Güiza…
Athletic Club lost 1-2 against RCD Mallorca. Llorente obtained the goal for Athletic and Güiza both for Mallorca. Finally, the celebration couldn’t be completed and the best was the impressive welcome that Carlos Gurpegi received from the audience on his return to San Mamés, in addition to Joseba Etxeberria’s 415 League matches, second register after Iribar and ahead of Rojo I, in the history of the organization. Afterwards, in a very open and even match in the first half and better for the visitors in the second, Mallorca took the three points. The rojiblancos began to lose the solidity of previous encounters in San Mamés and, at the same time, their effectiveness and proof of it were the three opportunities by Gabilondo and Amorebieta in the last stretch of the match.
Athletic Club remains in the eleventh place on the table. UEFA, only nine points away when there’re nine left, is impossible, although it is mathematically attainable if Sevilla would lose all three matches and Athletic won all three, always depending, in addition, on the results of third teams who are ahead.
The Intertoto is just like last week; four points away, however, with one less matchday. Relegation is finally six points away; six plus the goal-average in the case of Recreativo de Huelva. A defeat by Recreativo would leave relegation mathematically parked, with the added fact that there are another six teams in the way. The best medicine to dissipate all doubts would be to add points in both games this week, with a visit from an already relegated Murcia and the San Mamés Liga farewell against Racing de Santander.
On Gurpegi’s day, the beginning has been just as equally warm as vibrant. Güiza scored in the minute 2 after a great pass from Arango and a much better control behind Gurpegi which made the rest easier. Nevertheless, Athletic reacted well and Llorente scored his tenth goal of the current season in the Liga after finishing off a corner with a header. Those were the best moments of the match with continuous comings and goings and gradual control by Athletic. On the other hand, Mallorca, with its two wingers changing flanks, didn’t resign to anything and thanks to Arango, from a free-kick in the minute 24, and Güiza’s header, and a well deflected header by Armando in the 30th created some danger. For Athletic, Yeste and Garmendia had already changed positions. Garmendia played behind Llorente and Yeste as forward.
The response by Caparrós’ players also arrived in time and shape by means of a shot by Garmendia from outside the area that Moyá cleared in the minute 34 and a shot on goal by Llorente from a free-kick by Yeste that barely missed wide in the 41st. To set trends in the second half, Webó headed just over the crossbar in the minute 41.
On the restart of play, balance presided over the first quarter hour, with botched volleys by Del Horno and Güiza. Etxeberria replaced Yeste in the minute 52 and in the 61st Ibagaza substituted Webó. The forward wasn’t happy at all with the substitution, but his team appreciated it. The 4-5-1 gave it more possession and that’s how it undermined Athletic. Caparrós’ reaction has been to bring Murillo in for Garmendia, who already had a yellow card, thereby trying to somehow control the events of the match. In the last stretch of the match, Murillo ended up as a midfielder and Gurpegi as a centre. The objective was halfway fulfilled, since Mallorca only needed a couple of minutes of inspiration to take the match. In the minute 69, a pumped free-kick by Arango ended up in a corner; his shot in a beautiful strategic play was deflected to corner by Armando then his shot on goal combed the near post for Güiza to finish off from close range.
There was still time, but no spark nor precision left. The solution was to bring in Aduriz for Susaeta, to move Etxeberria to the right, while Manzano continued decelerating by bringing a centre in, Ramis, to replace Güiza, while he simultaneously placed Arango alone as striker. Athletic Club bet on hung balls over the area, though in the minute 81 Joseba Etxeberria tried it on an individual play, but after getting past the defender his left-footed shot has gone high.
Finally, in injury time, Llorente passed the ball with his head, Gabilondo shot on goal with a header where it was deflected and the later rebound was shot high by Amorebieta. A pity, since the team is transmitting other sensations, rather positive, that could and should be ratified in this final stretch.