The first half belonged to the locals but the visitors were superior in the second….
The first half belonged to the locals but the visitors were superior in the second.
Etxeberria scored the rojiblanco goal, whereas Rossi, Pires, Cazorla and Altidore scored on behalf of the visitors in a two-faced affair, a good start by Athletic Club and, just like in previous duels, ended in defeat, in this case the most painful because of the bulging scoreboard despite the fact that our rival is the only team who still doesn’t know what it’s like to lose in the current league.
Initial superiority of Athletic Club, because apart from knowing how to bounce back and respond to Villarreal’s goal, they created opportunities and were able to set the pace of the match, demonstrating that (and continue to…) with the ball in their possession they are capable of great things. During the second half, however, the visitors dominated with relative ease, due to their great punch and because they had almost the exclusive control of the ball and, thus, the pace which was most convenient for them to affront the match and escape from the desperate attempts by the Red-Whites to apply the pressure. After tonight’s defeat, all the work which can be done will be little to climb out of the hole we find ourselves in.
With regards to the account of the match and after Ángel’s missed shot at goal, the runs and the clearest goal-scoring opportunities were had by Athletic Club. In the ninth minute Etxeberria wasn’t able to finish off the final feint to end up in front of the rival goalie, in the 11th a pass to the centre by him was finished off by Llorente with a header, but the ball was caught by Diego López and in the 13th Balenziaga’s shot at goal went over the crossbar from outside the goal area. As is the habit of late unfortunately, there is the impression that our rivals do not need excessive weapons to hurt our team, which would not be so worrying if we had great goal-scoring capabilities, which to date is not the case. In minute 23 of the game Balenziaga tried to make a run with a pass to himself, but Ángel intercepted it and passed it on to Rossi who scored from within the goal area.
Umpteenth disadvantage, although an Etxeberria header, as a result of David López’s corner kick, found the back of the net, practically without any angle, five minutes later and then Athletic Club started to believe in themselves to the point of overcoming Villareal in intensity, play, pressure and collocation. Superior in everything, except on the scoreboard. Despite the fact that in the 31st minute an indirect foul shot taken by Yeste went in but was annulled by the referee who understood, as it seemed, that the ball did not touch any rival player. In the 35th minute David López kicked the shot at goal of the night, but between the ball and the angle was Diego López’s glove and the corner kick to follow, without the goalkeeper, the ball was repelled by the chest of a defender from under the posts. No ceasefire to be called, a pass to the centre by Iraola from the right was finished off by Llorente with a header but unbelievably his header went astray. It would have been a perfect end to the first half in which we had imposed our will on the centre-backs from Levante.
Surprisingly, the rival almost got ahead prior to the break. Pires, who started on the left and later went wherever he wanted, almost scored from the centre which the referee had interpreted as corner. Llorente responded to this with a great header which hit the goalpost, Athletic Club tried their luck with a volley by Etxeberria and with a ball in extra time they could not push Amorebieta, who was injured unfortunately, towards scoring a goal.
In spite of the perspective from the stands being optimistic, the bad end to the first half because of injury was made worse at the start of a second half which was one without pace and little tension, the ideal stage for Villarreal to impose their better punch and ability to handle the tempo of the match. Almost without realizing it, Pellegrini’s squad resolved the match in seven minutes. A ball which Rossi took from Iraola on the back line, the passing shot by Pires and the slight but sufficient rebound off Balenziaga’s boot resulted in the 1-2 and an individual run by Cazorla, who even finished off the shot at goal with his left, despite the ball having touched Iraizoz’s mitt, signed the Death Certificate thus bringing to an end the Red-White hopes.
All too much for a team which has lost its consistency at the back and despite having possession of the ball almost always ends up losing it in the exchange of blows, although we hope that our next rivals won’t have the same strength of, at least, the last four teams.
Caparrós made a double substitution. Javi Martínez and Ion Vélez stepped in for Yeste and Etxeberria, but it was too late for somersaults. Villarreal kept on doing their own thing, which they do very well, touch after touch, combining this with theatrical dives to the ground by Senna and combined with the lack of match rhythm and the impotence and incapacity of the locals the minutes passed by with two more clear goal-scoring opportunities on behalf of Villarreal, one by Cazorla repelled by Iraizoz and another clamorous opportunity by the recently incorporated Fernández who marred what should have been a goal. On the contrary, our team also had two opportunities, both involving Javi Martínez: a header which went astray in the 63rd and in the 84th minute during a one to one with Diego López who resolved the problem in the last instance. A goal would have meant a dozen exciting minutes, what was left of the encounter, but not even this. What’s more, Altidore who stepped onto the field during extra time to waste some seconds scored the fourth goal from his first contact with the ball. Just what our team needed.
Excessive punishment, without a doubt, but in the end and for dessert five consecutives matches without major or minor merit, with major or minor doses of bad luck and quite a few defects to work on. Five matches without points which have already set the alarm bells ringing. The excuse of the rivals who are fighting for the league is over with and for that reason, Mallorca, a difficult field, should be a point of inflection.