Athletic Club has defeated (3-2) Malaga CF in a rhythmic and high-quality match on the…
Athletic Club has defeated (3-2) Malaga CF in a rhythmic and high-quality match on the part of both teams. The goals scored by Yeste, Llorente and Susaeta made those obtained by Luque and Lolo worthless. With the three points in the pouch, the rojiblancos already have their minds set on Wednesday’s Copa challenge before Sevilla, an appointment for which the win against the Liga’s revelation team means a new injection of morale.
Precisely with regards to the performance after the Copa qualifying round there were doubts about Athletic Club that we were going to face a more rested rival: the necessity of changing chip, the exhaustion and a whole series of factors that have their influence when it’s all about combining competitions and accumulating three points every week.
In the end the doubts dissipated in a very difficult encounter against a very well armed opponent in its lines. Perhaps in the review of attempts and in how the marker changed may underlie the kindness, and justice, of a draw, but as team and fans seem to be on the crest of the wave, we are even getting spoilt when it comes to turning things around when early goals are conceded. Let the good run continue in Sevilla.
Beginning the match and receiving the first blow all happened at once. In minute 2, Luque pushed a defective pass from Apoño to goal and claimed offside was useless. It seemed that Luque was in line, although the later repetitions did not clarify much.
Perhaps due to the reiteration of goals conceded early in the last matches Athletic Club got, with no further delay, to the job at hand. The first step has been to take control of the match in a difficult situation given Malaga’s job, but there was no choice, since a second consecutive step back in the Liga could prove expensive.
Ion Vélez had a chance in the minute four, but his run through ended up in Goitia’s legs. The goalie offered Llorente a gift on a platter in the minute 12, but the player from Irun did not expect such a present and, somewhat forced, shot too high.
Since the match was open, pretty to watch and filled with alternatives, Athletic downshifted and Malaga overcame its post-goal thrill, after which it enjoyed several options to set the encounter on track. The first, almost innocently, by Luque when he sent a cross to the post in the minute18, a play that the referee turned into a protested corner.
Baha had a clearer opportunity in the minute 25, but he was unable to accurately push the ball in just a meter away from the goal line. A few seconds later, he tried a lob over the goalie from just beyond centre field, but Iraizoz deflected for a corner.
Once the hot flush had passed, it was our team’s turn with a high left-footed shot by Llorente. A mere warning of what would happen in the second half, since today he was prolific when it came to shooting from the edge of the area. It was minute 29 and, in spite of the adverse marker, the crowds continued their support in a dynamic that, if it lasts, it’s going to turn San Mamés into a very difficult venue to assault; as it should be.
Not only shoot, Llorente can also assist and in the minute 37 he back-passed a ball in the left side of the area and Yeste, who is back in the starting line-up, was able to connect a great shot for the equalizer.
One by one, but without ceasing hostilities, Athletic sent the ball up and Malaga taking advantage of each set-piece play or counterattacking. In one of them, Duda got past Iraizoz, but his shot, from a tight angle and with the right, fortunately went wide.
Before the interval, also quite deserved on this occasion, the referee avoided booking our players with a couple of yellows, a fact that would later help when Weligton committed a bad foul on Ion Vélez and it was settled with a simple yellow when it deserved greater punishment.
Ion Vélez stayed in the changing rooms, suffering from back pain, and Toquero occupied his place. At the quarter of hour of a spirited entry by Athletic settled with a shot by Martinez into Goitia’s hands, Malaga’s turn arrived, in bursts like in the first half and, quite honestly, it made the most of five magical minutes.
Between the 58th and 63rd minute, there was a high header by Baha, Luque’s shot barely missed wide and another good shot following a set-piece by Duda that Lolo headed in to make it 1-2.
Things were starting to look worse, but neither the team nor the fans showed signs of a willingness to give in, so usual other times. Gabilondo and Susaeta came off the bench to give more penetration on the wings. Since Javi Martinez and David Lopez were out, Yeste passed to the double pivot, Gabilondo to the left and Susaeta to the right.
Gabilondo shot a wide header in the minute 69 and twenty minutes from regulation time Llorente received a pass from Yeste in the centre of the area, he turned, and shot a spectacular left for the draw; commotion in the stands and back to the beginning.
Adriano came in for Luque for Tapia’s team to try and revitalize its attack, but Athletic was dominating, which is not synonymous to the fact that the opponent did not create danger.
In the 78, Llorente tried his luck again, but this time his right footed shot went wide, Weligton’s header from up close missed wide, Iraola had his attempt but also missed wide, and a close shot by Baha was saved by Iraizoz.
It’s well known that seeing the opponent and its potential, the classification and how the match played out a draw was not bad. However, despite the evolution of the match and the virtues and defects that this team has, the deposit of confidence and self-esteem is full to the brim.
That’s why in the minute 86, a sideline serve by Koikili reached Toquero’s feet in the area and his cross was turned into a golden header by Susaeta which unleashed the madness, even though transitory because there was no time for more, in the field of play and in the devoted stands.
Even so, there were still some minutes of suffering left. Luque D.A. had already replaced Duda, perhaps Malaga’s best during the match, and his free-kick near the end was just a bit too high over the bar.
Happy ending, but the joy has ended since the whole team already have Wednesday’s Copa match in mind, as it will immediately afterwards visit Valladolid in the Liga, with the laudable intention of finishing the extended January uphill well.