Other results: Olhanense 2 Anderlecht 1Athletic made their debut with a loss against a powerful…
Other results: Olhanense 2 Anderlecht 1
Athletic made their debut with a loss against a powerful Benfica, at least in theory, as Athletic spared their lives literally during the first 35 minutes of the match. Needless to say, even to the most unaware person in this crazy world of football, this is what happens when you don’t finish off an opponent with such talented players, beings who are able to turn water into wine given the chance. Conclusion: 2 to 1, an adverse score and a bittersweet return to Isla Canela.
The Red-Whites crossed the border that separates Spain and Portugal after 11 days of work. It’s still not enough. The Portuguese, fitter at this time of the season, took their place on the pitch knowing that even a week more of training means a considerable difference in their physical performance.
However, the first half was all Athletic. With a good attitude when applying the pressure and a more than acceptable co-ordination between lines, Caparrós’s boys asserted their authority with appreciable clarity. Without difficulties in defence, they had four goal-scoring opportunities of those that usually decide a match. For better or worse.
Toquero scored the first goal and then David López had the opponent definitely against the ropes. But he missed. Thus they reached the break with a well-deserved but scant score, taking into account the merit of the bilbotarras’.
And just after a couple of minutes into the second half, Iraizoz’s miscalculation allowed Benfica to get back into the match and Saviola confirmed that his affair with Athletic is truly a romantic one. Not satisfied, Saviola pulled another goal out of his hat and turned the match around in a blink of an eye. Things that serial killers (death by goals) do.
As time ticked on, the Lions, who could do nothing else, played Russian roulette. They went after the draw with passion and offered their opponents juicy gaps to practise their counter-attack. They could have drawn, close to the 90th minute, when Muniain came out of nowhere and got face to face with the Portuguese goalkeeper. But the referee was more concerned with leaving things be, maybe because the final would work out much better for the organizers with Benfica in the main role. Perhaps.
Anyway, a good first half on Athletic’s behalf against a powerful rival and lots of work ahead. Something which, on the other hand, is quite obvious halfway through July. The vibrations were good and the final score, bad. Let’s keep in mind the first because we are heading towards the 30th of July quickly.
Athletic Club starting eleven line-up against Benfica: Iraizoz, Zubiaurre, Koikili, Aitor Ocio, Amorebieta, Orbaiz, David López, Gurpegi, Toquero, Susaeta and Ion Vélez.
On the bench: Etxeita, Armando, Ustaritz, Muniain, Iturraspe, Etxeberria, De Marcos and Eneko.
Benfica starting eleven line-up: Moretto, Maxi Pereira, Miguel Vitor, Roderick Miranda, Sepsi, Ruben Amorim, Aimar, Carlos Martins, Cardozo, Fábio Coentrao and Saviola. On the bench: Moreira, Patric, Shaffer, Jorge Ribeiro, Fellipe Bastos, Yebda, Balboa, Mantorras, Urreta, Nuno Gomes, Nelson Oliveira and Joao Pereira.
Refereed by Eugenio Arez, with the aid of Alcino Venancio and Carlos Cabral as assistants. The 4th referee: Nuno Filipe.
22:25. Match kick-off.
(10′) Cardozo kicks a foul shot, too high.
(12′) A good play by Susaeta and David López finishes it off, however, Moretto repels it with difficulty.
(14′) A move by Ion Vélez but there’s no one to finish it off.
(17′) 0-1. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAL. A good centre pass from Susaeta and Toquero finishes it off impeccably with a header.
(24′) Fabio Coentrao, too much of an angle, against Iraizoz.
(27′) Shot at goal by Orbaiz that isn’t caught by the goalkeeper, David López doesn’t make it in time, only just, to take a shot at goal on the rebound.
(28′) Susaeta fires away, misses.
(30′) Aimar has a go from a distance, but the path of ball alters and just misses.
(35′) Yellow card given to Gurpegi.
HALF TIME BREAK
23:26. Second half gets underway. Muniain, Iturraspe and Joseba Etxeberria, step in for Orbaiz, David López and Ion Vélez.
(46′) 1-1. Foul taken by Fabio, Iraizoz can’t reach it and Saviola equalizes the match.
(64′) Shot at goal from Benfica, to corner. Three substitutions made by Benfica.
(65′) 2-1. Corner kick and Saviola scores the second.
(75′) Goal-scoring opportunity for Cardozo, who strikes the ball with too much angle against Iraizoz.
(78′) A great goal-scoring opportunity for Muniain, whose shot thumps Moreira’s body.
(83′) De Marcos steps in for Gurpegi.
(87′) Cardozo, from his side of the pitch, fires away but just misses.