Athletic Club defeated UD Almería by 1-4. Javi Martínez, Ustaritz, Llorente and De Marcos being…
Athletic Club defeated UD Almería by 1-4. Javi Martínez, Ustaritz, Llorente and De Marcos being the goal-scorers. An important triumph in order to keep this positive streak going, the first time ever in an official match against Almería, and in order to consolidate the calm spots in the placings. With twenty points in the competition, more or less a similar figure is needed for the mathematical tranquillity to be real. With regards to today’s encounter, our team did a neat job in defence, this was extremely efficient strategically and, what’s more they made the most out of their goal-scoring opportunities which were more than their rivals, they were patient in standing up against the rival’s strong initial drive. Three points obtained with competence to try to seal the mathematical qualification for the UEL’s round of 16 match, on Thursday in Vienna, and to face up to the arrival of one of the League’s rivals, Valencia, on Sunday at San Mamés.
As already mentioned, the start of the match was not easy. Almería stepped onto the field with a clearly offensive spirit; they applied the pressure well and recuperated possession of relatively simple balls. If this were not enough, five minutes into the game Iraola was awarded a yellow card with all the danger that this implies when having to fight against Crusat’s speed. In spite of there being no shots at goal, in the 10th minute Cisma launched a foul and the shot at goal, after having gone through the middle of the barrier, went out.
Despite the absence of cold hard danger in the goal area, the Red-White team, who wore their third sporting kit, did not rev up and could see their integrity in danger in the 21st minute when Piatti, in a legal position, got away from our defender perfectly to plant himself in front of Iraizoz, though the goalie was able to repel the shot. Curiously though this could be considered the turning point, seeing that from then on Athletic became more active and the same starting eleven line up as that of the match against FC Barcelona got down to work.
Following a foul that was repelled by a defender, the second move started with Susaeta (very active) who centred the ball so that Javi Martínez could finish it off, but it struck the post. Meanwhile Koikili was given a yellow card and now there were cautioned players in both wings. Fortunately on both wings this problem could be solved without any more frights. In a match that was becoming more open each time, Cismas gave us a fright, once again with a foul kick, because of his ruined centre shot in minute 35. In the next corner kick Javi Martínez almost introduced the ball under his very own goalposts, but it was obvious which goalposts he wanted to drill and he demonstrated this in the 37th minute when Yeste launched a foul kick taken from the rival’s halfway line while the rival defence was getting organized waiting for Fernando Llorente’s arrival. Those that did arrive were Gurpegi and Martínez and the latter scored the 0-1 with an offensive header.
Immediately afterwards M’Bami was also awarded a yellow card, but the most important thing was to increase the lead soon. Yeste launched a rehearsed corner kick and Gurpegi, after Iraola’s block, had struck the first post and Ustaritz came from behind at the second to finish off the move with his right leg and, in the meantime, score his first goal in an Athletic Club official match.
At halftime things couldn’t have gotten any better. In an attempt to change things Hugo Sánchez made a double substitution during the interval. Goitom substituted Rodríguez and Corona the cautioned M’Bami, which caused the re-organization of the local team. Apart from Goitom playing as a striker, Crusat and Piatti changed wings and were prepared to repeat the siege of the first half. The best goal-scoring opportunity was a double one for Piatti, but a defender was also lively in the area to prevent what could have been the commencement of a reaction. More doubts with Yeste receiving a card in the 58th, but practically none when the very same player took a foul shot just before minute 60 of the game and, despite the reiterated shirt-tugging by Acasiete, a Llorente header found the back of the net. Only half an hour left, but hardly any of the few Almeria fans who were still in the stands had a doubt that the third Red-White League triumph away from San Mamés would occur.
Susaeta joined the list of cautioned players, whereas David López stepped in for Gurpegi, who had cramps after receiving a blow to one of his calf muscles. The match, as you would expect, slowed down a bit as a result of the impotence of some and others who weren’t in a rush. The last push came in minute 70 of the game with a header by Acasiete and a shot at goal by the recent substitute Ortiz, both attempts were repelled by Iraizoz. Castillo was sent in to replace Yeste to close the left wing from which Ortiz tried to penetrate now as a result of changing Crusat to attacking midfield.
There was only a quarter of an hour left when De Marcos jumped onto the impeccable pitch to replace Llorente and the first ball he touched he converted into goal, his first in the League after having already scored in friendly, Supercopa and UEL matches, by finishing if off in an acrobatic style from a good centre by Susaeta. Athletic were lacking just a bit of cold blood during these minutes and despite this were able to score with more space. David López’s cross was too angled and the goal scored in the 84th was done so by Almería, from a penalty kicked by Kalu Uche. This did not alter the course of the match, given that De Marcos had another good goal-scoring opportunity, Susaeta beat Alves, but his shot at goal struck the posts and Alves deflected the loose ball to David López.
A placid finish and twenty points that leaves the teams in the relegation spots with thirteen a situation which mustn’t make us fall into the trap of triumphalism, nor succumb to the pressure of determined aims that if necessary will come. In the meantime, the only thing to do is to take advantage of the moment and recuperate our energy for the other two exciting objectives of the week.