Athletic Club is in the Copa quarterfinals after defeating Osasuna by 2-0, with goals by…
Athletic Club is in the Copa quarterfinals after defeating Osasuna by 2-0, with goals by Gabilondo and Ion Vélez early in the match. From then on, our team has known to perfectly read the game, though the fact that Gorka Iraizoz stopped Portillo’s penalty kick in the minute 63 influenced the final calm.
After this victory, the January game schedule is totally full and in the next round awaits Sporting de Gijon, against whom we will play next Wednesday or Thursday in San Mamés; the second leg will be one week later in the Asturian city. In the meantime, the Liga is back and to close the first leg the opponent is no easy feat, a Valencia in Champions positions. An encounter in which the crowds will once again provide their support, like in the Copa, helping overcome the rival and fatigue and for whom changes are assured, at least in the defence, due to the loss of penalized Amorebieta.
As had already happened on Sunday at the Vicente Calderón and as is fortunately happening lately at home, Athletic came out well-positioned on the field, immediately confining an Osasuna that emerged with more players populating the midfield than in the first leg. The beginning has been vibrant. Immediately, a penalty on Susaeta was called for, even though he was fouled outside the area, Masoud saw his first yellow after just three minutes and only the dubious criteria of the referee let to him continue on the field until he was substituted, and in the minute 4, Gabilondo perfectly controlled a rebound in the edge of the area and angled it enough to make Ricardo’s stretch ineffective; advantage on the scoreboard and in the rounds’ aggregate, which had a comforting, but also motivational effect.
Osasuna’s reaction came in the form of a line drive by Portillo which Iraizoz stopped in the minute 6, a prelude of what would happen throughout the match. Athletic looked for spaces by using good pressure and recovering many balls in the midfield, and sometimes also found them after losses by the rival. Llorente shot wide in the minute 15, but since roles are well established in the team, it was Ion Vélez who found compensation for his persistence and verticality, though it had to be after bouncing on a defence to get past Ricardo. Two-nil in the minute 18, which eliminated any possibility of extra time, with little over an hour left of head or tails.
As the 4-5-1 of Osasuna looked well designed for the counterattack, those dressed in blue had little trouble moving the ball in the midfield, but a lot creating danger. So much so, that in the first half we could only find a well-centred header by Sunny that Iraizoz stopped before the half hour of play. For the rojiblancos the occasions, two, were clearer. In the first, minute 32, perhaps Llorente wanted to pay Vélez back the favour of the Calderón and after a dazzling penetration down the left he served up a ball into the heart of the area, but Ion couldn’t finish it off. In the second, minute 36, Llorente headed a corner kick anticipating himself to Ricardo, but over the crossbar.
After the interval, Gurpegi replaced Javi Martinez without changing the rojiblanco scheme. Although Osasuna took a step forward, the first option was again for Gabilondo, but his right-footed shot was deflected to corner by the goalkeeper. After his shot, the scuffle ended up with a closing shot on goal by Iraola that Ricardo intercepted. Immediately after, in the minute 57, Camacho carried out a double substitution, Delporte in for Nekounam and Pandiani in for Masoud. The Navarrese team, with Portillo and Pandiani ahead, Delporte on the left and Jokin Esparza on the right, moved Sunny somewhat back and were placed in a 4-4-2, originating the best minutes for the visitors; which, although few, generated some anxiety for the rojiblanco squad and the hearts of its followers.
The protagonists have been almost the same all night, although for different reasons. In this case, Gabilondo committed a penalty on Portillo. At first it seemed that the forward had struck his foot against the turf, but later it appeared to be Gabilondo who made contact with the rival. Penalty shot taken by Portillo and second shot from eleven meters that Iraizoz saves in San Mamés, though this time he did so with the red-white jersey, since in the previous one he blocked Aduriz when he was goalkeeper for Espanyol.
A decisive play, because Osasuna could offer no more, though it tried to until the end. Toquero replaced Ion Vélez in the 65 and Héctor Font substituted Jokin Esparza in the 72. Meanwhile, Gabilondo kept doing his thing, creating danger; however on this occasion, minute 72, his left-footed shot went wide. It was the last attempt, though it was apparent that no more would be necessary. Osasuna had their chance in the 78, but Josetxo and Pandiani did not agree when it came time to finishing off the free-kick taken by Portillo.
The minutes passed without mercy for those losing, well-administered by those winning, nevertheless if the match was hot in the beginning it ended the same way, and not only in the crowds, who even chanted ‘Cuco, Cuco’, but also on the field, seeing as Delporte did not miss his usual appointment with the opponent in San Mamés and was sent off for a direct red. In summary, eighth consecutive match unbeaten, ahead to the next round in the Copa, good reading of the game and no goals conceded; good momentum for this January uphill climb.