Athletic Club has achieved its aim, which was none other than entering the Copa’s round…
Athletic Club has achieved its aim, which was none other than entering the Copa’s round of 16 draw. Athletic did not play a good match, but were superior in the overall tally of the elimination round, not only because of the 2-3 reflected on the scoreboards, but also because of their play, even though moral victories are not satisfactory when it comes down to points or qualifying for other rounds. On the other hand, this step was made with an elevated doses of uncertainty after not being able to score a goal, with everything in our favour, to put an end to the eliminatory then and there at San Mamés and unfortunately Recreativo equalized the eliminatory round prior to the half time break without doing anything from out of this world.
Everyone being aware that a 2-0 result was not impossible to equalize or beat in football today and even more so among teams who are in the same division and in a competition in which, after having seen some comments, give the impression that only our rivals can turn a match around. Without going too far back in time, last Sunday at Ono Estadi we saw a team fight back after having 2 goals scored against them in only a quarter of an hour. If we are talking about the Copa we need only go back to Athletic’s match against Racing de Santander who were 2-0 ahead and with only three goal-scoring opportunities, our players were able to equalize the eliminator prior to the half time interval.
During today’s lifeless appointment, there were only a couple of thousands of fans at the Nuevo Colombino; few expected the 2-0 after having seen the first twenty minutes of the match. Little pace, no danger from the locals and Red-White runs and the final pass from Garmendia to Susaeta, whose shot at goal just missed and Gabilondo’s shot at goal which went high, what’s more a yellow card given to Koikili. Athletic were looking for Llorente and Recreativo for the tall Ersen Martin, who left the field injured in the 42nd minute, and Adrián Colunga’s speed left his markers behind.
In theory the most difficult part of the game would be to contain Recreativo’s initial burst of energy. This already mentioned fact did not occur. On the other hand, with boredom being the name of the game, the hosts equalised in seven minutes. In the 24th minute a foul kicked by Casado made Athletic Club’s marker zone useless and Akalé, with no markers around was free to take a shot at goal, his angled header found the back of the net. All of which was worsened in the most unexpected way, as Ersen Martin finished off a throw in with little strength, and who had found himself between Javi Martínez and Ustaritz with Iraizoz having come forward. Two goals to nil. Two shots at goal, two goals and the sensation of a catastrophe in the making.
At least from then on and up to the interval the only clear goal-scoring opportunity belonged to Athletic with an angled shot at goal by Gabilondo which missed, but the panorama was anything but encouraging.
During the break Orbaiz replaced Iturraspe, but the situation was still unstable, just like what is said during a weather forecast. Because of the few moves of both teams and local initiative. In the 50th minute the referee seemingly ignored what could be considered Kokili’s second yellow card, he did however give Marco Rubén a yellow card for tackling Susaeta and in minute 53 Roberto, as though he were a goalie of indoor football and because of his intuition, repelled a hard-struck shot at goal by Gabilondo who had taken the foul.
The eliminatory was still open but a goal on behalf of the locals made the situation an uphill one and another visitor almost put an end to it all. Ion Vélez replaced Javi Martínez and Garmendia was sent to cover the double pivot position, but there was nothing on the match horizon and our only hope was to wait in order to see the same sparks as that of the first half.
And then there was light, for both teams. In the 70th minute Iraizoz was able to take on Akale with a worthy double save, first saving the header and then saving the shot struck with the foot. In the 75th minute a deep pass by Orbaiz was chased after right until the end by Vélez and as the ball had escaped Roberto, the struggle for the ball ended up with the goalie’s hand being on the forward’s leg. Penalty and Llorente took on the responsibility of taking that shot with a result of 2-1 which put the elimination round back on track.
This was all too much for Recreativo and towards the end of the match Etxeita made his debut and this was the highlight of this period. This and the small number of silly spectators who never stopped insulting our player Carlos Gurpegi. Someone should take note because other incidents of less importance can stop a match or are included in the Referee’s match report
With this objective complied with we are waiting to see what the draw has in store for us whether good or bad. Now it’s back to the league at San Mamés and it’s time to gather all our strengths because everything is little when it comes to winning again and breathing a bit easier and the match against Osasuna is a do or die affair, as it is just the one match.