Athletic Club hasn’t gotten past the quarterfinal round after they drew three all against Real…
Athletic Club hasn’t gotten past the quarterfinal round after they drew three all against Real Racing. Amorebieta, Muñoz from a penalty and Susaeta scored our goals, whereas Duscher, Tchité and Serrano scored for the visitors.
Just as we pointed out at the end of the first leg, the Copa is different, with lots of scenarios and various outcomes in only two matches. In the end it’s had a dream-like atmosphere for any player, with another ten for the fans that jammed San Mamés, emotion, six goals, alternatives… Athletic touched what would have been the third semi-finals in the current decade, but it’s been like a shipwrecked person that sees the coast and swims until exhaustion to drown ashore. Our team didn’t pass to the next round due to their own demerits, mainly in the first leg, combined with the success of the rival, this is football, and also because of the referee’s scarce competence. Yes, today as well. The question of what came first, the chicken or the egg, of what weighed more on the scale once again comes up, but we’ll leave that to wiser analysts.
On a night with a hot atmosphere cold heads were also needed and that’s how Athletic appeared to come out, contrary to the thesis that defended a confrontation. Perhaps entering the match little by little was a way of not suffocating too quickly or it was the only thing there was left against a rival that tried to play with an advanced line. Nevertheless, contrary to the cross we’re forced to carry, the effectiveness has been total. In less than a half hour the most optimistic had filled their share: round even.
Our team has finally profited from a free-kick to the area. In the minute 17, a perfect cross by Yeste was combed by Amorebieta to score the 1-0 before a powerless Coltorti. Racing acknowledged the blow and more so the clear penalty committed on Llorente in the minute 24 of play. Muñoz assumed the responsibility and transformed it deceiving Coltorti, but it seemed too easy for what we are accustomed. The referee had him repeat the shot after a million hugs among the players and those in the stands. The play began in the minute 24 and finished in the 26th with Muñoz once again tricking the goalie; two-nil, round equalised and 65 minutes to go.
Racing was going through its worse moments, but our team needed to fill themselves from top to bottom with the Copa spirit and finish off the rival. It hasn’t done it and Racing has seen the way with Athletic a few metres back. In spite of this, only a high volley by Colsa in the minute 31 is worth mentioning. In the minute 36, an injured Jorge Lopez left his position to Pablo Alvarez, who marked a difference at the re-start, and in the changing rooms Ayoze replaced Luis Fernandez. The reading was that there was still a whole second half to be played.
It was like starting the qualifying round all over again, but the handicap was based on the fact that a goal scored by Racing would give them a pack of lifesavers. That’s how the rival’s understood it and from the initial whistle they appropriated the ball and created their first clear options from a high shot by Pablo Alvarez in the minute 48 and a header by the same player, which Aranzubia stopped in the 52. Luck was worse in the minute 53 when a cross passed from the right which seemed innocent enough was comfortably picked up by Serrano on the other end and his back pass was finished off without opposition by Duscher. All uphill, and a lead belt for Athletic.
However, we did say the Copa was different and it allowed Athletic, for the first time this season, to achieve three goals in one match. It’s a pity we’ve allowed as many. At the worse moment Athletic tugged from its pride and gave an immediate response. Llorente’s kick was deflected by Coltorti and Susaeta, attentive to the rebound, sent the ball to the net in the 55. Three to one, that is, the round was up to a single goal and the match was frantic. With the lifesavers lost, and the lead belt dropped to the bottom, Athletic travelled towards the coast on a log that still floated.
Tchité shot a header into Aranzubia’s hands and Gabilondo made Coltorti work. With half an hour to play yet some offensive changes were made on both sides. In our team, Aduriz came in for Aitor Ramos and in Racing Smolarek in for Bolado. The Pole shot a wide header soon after entering and in the rojiblanco’s response we witnessed the play that filled almost all of San Mamés with anger. At the minute 65 Gabilondo, who was just a few metres from Coltorti, was going to control an aerial ball and Pinillos only needed to hog it after pushing him with dazzling clarity. It was a scene in which the referee has been a privileged spectator; a clean cut penalty.
And if anyone had doubts, the referee didn’t hesitate for a moment. To make things worse, it’s the same referee that on Sunday indicated a penalty for the threat of a struggle in Murcia and booked the defender with a red card before being insulted. We don’t know the existence of any unwritten article in the regulation that prohibits indicating two penalties in favour of a team if these are really committed. Someday the light will shine. On the subject of this play and several others, the visiting Coach, Marcelino, added a humorous note, or of sincerity, if it weren’t to cry for, when he stated in his press appearance that he had hoped the arbitration of Santander would be the same here and that it was fulfilled. Perhaps he’s not too off target or his subconscious has betrayed him: the refereeing has favoured the same team in both matches and Athletic continues taking the rap for refereeing assistance.
More than one or two asked themselves at the break whether today was going to be our lucky day. Well, looks like it’s not. Seven minutes after the mentioned play Murphy’s Law became flesh on the referee’s body. Expósito, coming from behind, clearly took the ball away from Tchité and passed it to Aranzubia so that he could clear it with his feet. To everyone’s amazement, the referee indicated a foul by Ocio; a play that was not even caught by the television cameras.
If in the first half Yeste did it well, on this occasion Colsa crossed when it appeared that he was going to shoot directly on goal, Cesar Navas headed hitting the far post and Tchité pushed in the goal from the six yard box. With that goal the lifesavers disappeared as if by magic and the rojiblanco squad had to apply desperate strokes.
Garmendia in for Expósito and David Lopez in for Gabilondo have jumped onto the field, but in vain. David Lopez had the chance to get us back into the qualification in the minute 79, but his shot bumped into the hip and arm of a defender. Llorente had run the same luck when he claimed a more than doubtful knock down by Coltorti. In injury time, minute 92, Serrano equalized, but it didn’t matter, since the qualifying round was already decided, though to a great extent it was lost in Santander. Like in the rest of qualifying rounds with local victories, the one that won at home and didn’t allow a goal against has arrived at the semi-finals. It’ll have to be the next time. Meanwhile, if the vibes and desire on the part of the players remain the results in the form of victories will arrive.