Real Sporting de Gijón - Athletic Club

Real Sporting de Gijón - Athletic Club

Real Sporting de Gijón
Real Sporting de Gijón
Athletic Club
Athletic Club
  • 1' Carmelo
  • Gabilondo 41'
  • David López 50'

LocationEl Molinón , Gijón

Sporting 1 – Athletic Club 2

In the Semi-Finals Athletic Club has classified for the Copa semi-finals after defeating Sporting by…

Athletic Club

In the Semi-Finals

Athletic Club has classified for the Copa semi-finals after defeating Sporting by 1-2, with goals by Gabilondo, before the interval, and David Lopez, just minutes into the second half, all this after a difficult start to the match since Carmelo scored for the Asturians just before the minute of play. It is the third Copa semi-final for our team this decade (2001/2002, 2004/2005 and 2008/2009). Our rival, in order to get to the final, will come from the return legs played on Thursday, 29 January, either Sevilla or Valencia. The semi-finals will be disputed on 4/5 February, first leg, away, and 4/5 March in San Mamés.

Before reaching the semi-finals, the start of the game sent shivers down the spine. A strong exit was anticipated for Sporting, but not even in the most pessimistic forecasts did it fit that they would score before the first minute of play. And that’s exactly what happened after a ball recovery in the wing and a fast transition that Carmelo shot flat into the net, for the enjoyment of all the fans that almost filled El Molinón. The Copa is the Copa, and the goal is honestly necessary in the shortest possible time, that’s why David Lopez enjoyed an opportunity to set things well in the minute two of play, but he was unable to finish off a loose ball he’d found in the goal area.

The team and the thousand fans that travelled to Gijon suffered the worst moments with an electric and vertical rival who had, in Carmelo and his ease in playing between lines, a greater advantage. In the heat of the moment, minute 6, Javi Martinez deflected a shot by Luis Moran to corner and immediately afterwards the locals demanded a penalty by David Lopez for leaning on a rival when clearing. Out of place, a goal was the only possible therapy and, in spite of it all, Athletic has been able to accumulate chances that bore no result. Sporting, on the other hand, held the ball, played vertically and the wings, but fortunately weren’t able to wrap up the last pass.

Already in the minute 18, Koikili, made Sergio stretch and coming out of a corner, while they struggled to tackle the allegedly protected Llorente (two fouls against and one in favour indicated during the match), Amorebieta headed overtaking the goalkeeper, but not a defence that was under the woods. Athletic Club had trouble giving continuity to its attacks, but this season strategy is also worth its weight in gold and Javi Martinez headed… barely missing wide in the minute 27.

Time inevitably passed and while the most raucous of Sporting fans, like ten years ago, dedicated themselves to throwing stones outside the ground, adapting the ‘speech’ to the times, to insulting Gurpegi and proclaim their rage toward those born in the territory where our club is from, practically everyone in the Molinón enjoyed the favourable situation.

The classification was a single goal away, but a second goal by Sporting would practically have sentenced Athletic. Thankfully, in the minute 41, a ball that Llorente headed reached Gabilondo, who perfectly made out Sergio’s exit and smoothly lobbed the ball over to put the qualifying round in another scenario. If the hard blow received by Athletic in the first minute was hard, the next four minutes until the break left rather clear that the equalizer affected Sporting and its enthusiastic fans.

In order to undertake the decisive second half, both coaches moved pieces without touching the previous format. Preciado brought in Camacho for Matabuena and Caparrós brought in Yeste for Gabilondo. In spite of not changing the format, the predisposition with which Athletic faced the encounter in the second half was determining, so much so that it allowed it to be superior from the beginning until the end, mostly because they gambled on taking the initiative with the lesson well-learned. And more so when, in the 51, David Lopez finished off with a point-blank header from a calculated centre by Orbaiz. The 1-2 was the beginning of the end for Sporting. Automatically, David Barral replaced Michel and the Asturian team positioned itself in a 4-4-2 format, like Athletic, somewhat alleviating the rojiblanco midfield, with more room to move the ball, which along with the good reading of the match, something usual lately, set the classification on the right track.

Sporting was lost between the nervousness and complaints while it accumulated cards and Athletic Club kept creating chances. For example, a shot by Orbaiz that appeared to go in, but Llorente got in the way to finish off wide, though the play had been annulled because of an offside. In the 62, a good volley by Ion Vélez went over the crossbar and, to exemplify the good defensive work, Sporting did not have any occasion until the minute 72, though not too clear, by means of a half-turn shot by Barral that went wide. On the contrary, the rojiblanca opportunity has been much clearer when Fran Yeste shot a free-kick into the far post in the 74.

Preciado played his last hand by bringing in Omar to replace Luis Moran, in vain though, since he also stumble upon Koikili. Caparrós, in the heat of the countdown, brought Toquero in for Ion Vélez and Gurpegi in for David Lopez, this last one already in the heat of ‘letting time run out’. During this time Sporting did have a true opportunity, but Iraizoz responded acrobatically to Carmelo’s shot; a good action to close a highly-contested qualifying round with a more dazzling return match.

As said, Athletic Club is in the semi-finals, and not knowing whether next week it will travel to Valencia or Seville. On Saturday, Malaga, the revelation team of the first leg of the Liga, comes to San Mamés; a good opportunity to look ahead on the table and for the team to receive the ovation of its fans for having accomplished, together, opening the door to the dream of the final.