Young Boys - Athletic Club
Preliminary round

Young Boys - Athletic Club

Young Boys
Young Boys
Athletic Club
Athletic Club
  • Llorente 26'
  • Muniain 72'

LocationSuisse Wankdorf , Berna

Young Boys 1 – Athletic Club 2: Progress

Athletic Club beat Young Boys 1-2 in Bern, with goals from Llorente and Muniain. Frimpong…

Athletic Club

Athletic Club beat Young Boys 1-2 in Bern, with goals from Llorente and Muniain. Frimpong scored for the home side. The next round opponent will be announced on Friday 7 August.

With this result Athletic Club have achieved what seemed a pipe dream a week ago. In fact by half-time the tie was already level. Llorente had the thorn in his side from the missed penalty in the first leg and he paid his debt in the 26th minute when he perfectly headed home a good cross from Yeste’s free-kick.

The goal was reassuring after the hard work up to that point. Work to keep the ball and create danger and work to adapt to a new pitch, which in the end was not as decisive as expected from the start. From the outset, the home side wanted to manage their advantage by giving Athletic Club the initiative, or our team took control of it, knowing that the clock was ticking against them.

Apart from the speed with which the ball ran and the difficulty of making certain controls, chances were conspicuous by their absence and, unfortunately, those created by the Swiss side were more the result of their own unintentional mistakes than of the successes of others. For example, Doumbia’s first chance of the game in the ninth minute came from a mistake of his own, and minutes later Iraizoz had to work hard to keep the ball out of his own box twice and risk leaving his own goal unguarded.

As if that wasn’t enough, Athletic Club’s lack of strength gave wings to Young Boys, who stretched and began to test Iraizoz, as in the 16th minute when Hochtrasser shot from outside the area or in the 17th minute from Degen’s shot. Athletic Club had only one way out, to get their act together if they did not want to see their European journey cut short too soon. And they did so with a good flow of the ball, spreading the field and showing that they know how to do things very well with the ball between their legs. Susaeta, who ended up with a bruised right collarbone and is awaiting further tests, showed this in the 18th minute and soon after, debutant Oscar de Marcos volleyed wide. In the midst of the goalmouth scramble, a play between Iraola and Susaeta ended with the full-back being brought down at the edge of the area. The result was 0-1 and then a combination between Iraola and Javi Martinez ended with the latter shooting over the top.

Petkovic’s side were now in trouble, as with more than an hour to go, any Athletic Club goal doubled in value. The response was swift, but Doumbia’s header was well saved by Iraizoz, as was the keeper’s response to Yapi’s follow-up effort. The equilibrium prevailed until half-time, except for a header by Massardi, and the equaliser continued after the break, either through fatigue, respect or fear of losing the tie, or perhaps a mixture of all three factors.

For example, the first shot with any danger in the second half came in the 65th minute when Toquero tried from distance without any luck. When it was too much and when it was too little, things went off the rails. Doumbia had his chance, perhaps the best, to turn the tie upside down in the 69th minute, but the innocence of the shot did not give Iraizoz any problems. Nevertheless, apart from the goal, it was the clearest chance of the game for the hosts.

After a very short time Susaeta’s collarbone gave out and Muniain took his place. De Marcos moved to the right and the new man came in on the opposite flank. Second game and, once again, the protagonist, not only because of his precocious debut in the elite, but also because he scored the winning goal. Again a combination on the right, this time between Iraola and Toquero, ended in a corner. Yeste took the ball, defenders and strikers did not touch the ball and Muniain sent the ball into the net at the far post. His first goal in an official Athletic Club shirt and a gradual confirmation of a reality. The jackpot was within reach and elimination was looming on the balcony of the team from Bern.

With the animal that symbolises the city, Vladimir Petkovic decided to make the final push with all the attacking arsenal he had left on the bench (Frimpong, Pasche and Traore) while Caparrós exhausted his substitutions shortly afterwards: Orbaiz for De Marcos, Yeste moving to the midfield and Toquero to the right and, finally, Gurpegi for Yeste. Of the five active players in our Club who had participated in the last European victory (1-7 against Standard Liege), i.e. Gurpegi, Orbaiz, Iraola, Yeste and Etxeberria, only the captain did not get any minutes, although he fulfilled his announcement of the day before in which he reiterated his conviction that he would still participate in more continental matches.

The home side’s attempts were in vain. In normal time Schneuwly came close to a goal with a header that went wide and when all seemed set for a placid finish, a cross into the box with no apparent danger from Doumbia was deflected just wide by Frimpong, just enough to become a goal and turn the final moments of the tie into a ration of suffering, as it seems that without him our team’s achievements are less.

Fortunately, between a foul, a stoppage, a tackle on Muniain and a red card for Yapi, the four minutes have passed and Athletic Club will be in the draw in Nyon. Not bad at all, especially to avoid excessive tension in an environment that practically considered the season as a failure if they were eliminated. As on so many other occasions and without forgetting the context of a team that, whether we like it or not, is in pre-season, a bit of calm and a less pessimistic outlook would not go amiss because the month of August, now that it is over, looks like it is going to be a real month.