Athletic were defeated in Riazor in a strange match, an open one, and were once…
Athletic were defeated in Riazor in a strange match, an open one, and were once again a victim of their own fragile defence. Though it’s true that the third goal scored by Lotina’s men came from a lethal counterattack, in injury time, leaving the red-whites desperately looking for Aranzubia’s goal area, the fact is that the disproportionate number of goals scored against our team means that our aim of getting the points up for grabs takes on epic proportions.
Following the usual moments at the start of the match, Depor, weren’t very aggressive when it came to testing Iraizoz, and stumbled across one of those burdening goals, which put Caparrós’ squad off track in this 2008/2009 season. A clear blow executed excellently by Verdú received and identical response by Iraizoz, whose save fell to the feet of Zé Castro who, without the opposition which supposedly should be made by a team in their own goal area, said a polite thank you and put his team 1 goal ahead on the scoreboard to the joy of the frozen Galician crowd.
Nevertheless Athletic did not leave things to lady luck and in a corner kick (considering the give and take situation registered in the first half: there was a total of 11 corner kicks, 5 by the visitors and 6 by the locals) one more of those penalties which occur every Sunday was committed against Llorente, an action which Mejuto saw and called. It’s more than likely that this chronicle would be very different if Aranzubia (yes, that Aranzubia) hadn’t cleared the shot at goal by Andoni Iraola to corner with such agility. But that’s football and probably with both players thinking it over a hundred times last night.
The situation almost became mission impossible when a counter move from Deportivo was brought to end when Amorebieta tackled Bodipo that goes to show the excellent coordination between the referees and their linesmen in this league of stars. Mejuto called for a corner kick without hesitating, while the linesman, from quite a distance from where the incident occurred, and with eyesight, which could be considered as being prodigious in the world of nature, went running towards the area looking for his moment of glory. Without considering the possible consequences of his actions, the farce of the yellow card resulted in a tragically comical one. The difference being that Verdú found the back of the net resulting in a comfortable lead by the locals just before the half time break.
During the interval Caparrós understood that the situation was heading towards disaster, unless there was a radical change in circumstance. Etxeberria and Ion Vélez stepped onto the field to replace Garmendia and David López, in an attempt to add a touch of uncertainty to the spectacle by way of goal. Whereas, the Galicians interpreted the situation differently and that it was the moment to do nothing but wait for the counterattack move which would knock their rivals out definitely, confiding in the notable quality and speed of Lafita and Guardado. An error, or to play with fire, if you like, because the Blue-Whites ceded so many metres to their opponents that they forgot about Javi Martínez who anxiously made runs from the midfield positions looking for a good pass to the centre from Orbaiz and kicked the ball with such determination opening the match once more. Because Athletic had much more desire than exactness, and that is how it should be reflected, they seemed to be convinced that they still had a chance, not so remote, of winning.
And in the final minutes of the encounter, Deportivo, who were obviously nervous (yellow cards to Guardado, Zé Castro and Verdú, in minutes 85, 87 and 90 of the game respectively), saw the feared equalizer so close like the possibility of putting an end to the match then and there. And the 2-2 went astray in the 84th minute, when the ruckus in the local goal area was so well handled by Fernando Llorente that the brave fans who had travelled to A Coruña despite the distance and the weather, were practically celebrating the goal until luck, bad in this case, meant that the ball was sent to Javi Martínez’s back in a decisive move which determined who was going to take home the points.
The four against two move with which Guardado barraged Iraizoz in the 94th minute ended up a simple anecdote which Llorente and Martínez could only contemplate from the other end of the field by clutching their hair and cursing the unlucky situation experienced only minutes before. The sad image of what could have been. Sharing the points would not have been considered as unfair by those present, but (defensive factors aside) in this blessed and cursed game lady luck always comes in handy, even though we know, she prefers to flirt with those on a winning streak.
That’s how things are, and after the spiritual rearmament that the triumph against Osasuna had meant for the ‘lions’, the team has once again found itself face to face with the crude reality in the standings. On Sunday, with the protection of San Mamés, Athletic will play in another ‘final’ against Soria’s Numancia, a match in which it will be vital to win the three points.