Espanyol 1 Athletic Club 0 Athletic Club lost to Espanyol (1-0) in an eventful match,…
Espanyol 1 Athletic Club 0
Athletic Club lost to Espanyol (1-0) in an eventful match, especially during the first half, and a match that was more open but not effective in the second half, particularly after the goal was scored by Luis García which in the end was definitive. The second consecutive defeat away from home with several players injured make up this sad summary of our first visit to Cornellà, an outcome which must be rectified in light of the first match of the second League round on Sunday against Xerez.
On the contrary to what happened one week ago in Riazor, the kick off did not offer any great novelties in terms of football, but a series of setbacks that occurred seemed to presage an end without points and unfortunately this was just so. Espanyol, after a tearful week when talking about the referees (how many more articles can be written!) also wanted to be right on the football field, but found themselves against a rock solid team, although the rockslide was soon to take place. It was minute 4 of the game and Ustaritz collided with Gurpegi when clearing a ball with both players falling heavily to the ground, swelling in the temple region for the midfielder and eight staples in the forehead of the defender, who had made a comeback to the starting line-up this week. Half a dozen minutes off the field and a cumbersome bandage on his return to the pitch.
As though this were not enough, a ball referred to as being divided occurred, Yeste came into contact with the ball, but the boot-studs of a defender struck the internal part of his left ankle, another five minutes away from the field and some staples to his foot but as he was limping he soon had to be replaced on the left wing by Susaeta and all before the fifteen minute mark. These were not the only “events” concerning our players’ physical wellbeing in the first half. Koikili needed medical assistance, and had to leave the field twice, after being hit by the ball a number of times, Amorebieta was also hit and once more Gurpegi, now close to the halftime break gave everyone a scare by twisting his knee after battling it out with the rival goalkeeper.
At last, some respite, because his first gestures gave everyone the impression of it being a serious injury which fortunately was not the case. And talking about calamities, a repeat of the insults from the stands against the player without any extenuating circumstances at all, the “provocation” to put it that way which is so trite in sport, or is injuring oneself considered as inciting the use of foul language?. In a sport in which matches are interrupted, and rightly so, because a player is called black in a derogatory fashion or chimpanzee-like guttural sounds are made, and also in which so many exorbitant minutes are devoted and thousands of words are written when a player is told, for example, “die”, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if someone took matters into their own hands or that one day our team could make it to the changing rooms and in that way a long and drawn-out discussion about the issue could take place.
Talking about football, to be honest, Athletic Club did very little and what’s more, without exaggerating either, the local team, who with their wings covered tried to play between the lines with Verdú and had to be satisfied with their siege of the Red-White area that was based on corners, almost a dozen. Ironically and to top it all off, our team had all the more reasons to implore for an end to the first half, because the clearest Blue-White opportunities both came about from two unintentional Athletic Club headers, the first by Amorebieta but Iraizoz was ready to send it to corner with his hand and later Iraola, near halftime, after a foul kick was taken with an identical result: Iraizoz deflecting it to corner.
Our players, during the time the starting eleven were all together, a rough calculation of twenty five minutes in the first half, tried to string together a couple of counterattack moves, but without good aim to be really considered dangerous other than the angled shot at goal by Susaeta that had just gone out in the 22nd minute. The team had reached the halftime break with the same result as almost always, at least while visiting, a nil all draw and, together with, the superstitious fear of a goal being scored again in minute 5 of the second half.
This didn’t happen, though it did just a bit later, but prior to the goal the misfortunes kept on paving their disastrous course. Firstly, physically, Osvaldo elbowed Ustaritz leaving him with a black eye during an offensive move by Espanyol which Verdú was unable to finish off. How to injure yourself all on your own or because any contact with the rival did not go down well with the local fans, it was now time to take it out on the referee and the people in the stands protested loudly against even the slightest hint of physical contact, though to make things worse in an evening best forgotten, coincidence made Javi Márquez knock Susaeta down on the halfway line and he deserved a second yellow card, said without acrimony or insolence. This incident, that almost went unnoticed, was to return to the limelight shortly afterwards when an Athletic counterattack was interrupted in that zone by Espanyol, Verdú passed the ball to the already mentioned Márquez, whose shot with the left was repelled by Iraizoz but not far enough by the latter and Luis García was able to guide the ball into the back of the net.
There was nothing more to do other than to go for the equalizer and here all heart and little thought. With regards to the heart, Athletic had put their heart in it. Muniain stepped in for Ustaritz (Gurpegi went on to play in centre position) and later De Marcos replaced Toquero, whereas Coro did the same with Callejón who soon afterwards took a good shot at goal, but his good header was blocked by Iraizoz. This was the local’s last goal-scoring opportunity with still twenty minutes left to go, which seemed like an eternity for Espanyol, however, as you would expect the score made this anxiety more bearable.
During this period, without any mishaps! Athletic came face to face with reality (in minute 78 of the game it was obvious that Pareja had elbowed Llorente but we’ll leave this for the expert leaders to analyse before giving their opinions on such issues) and with the rival defence (in minute 87 a great left by Iraola was cleared by Javi Ruiz) and with their very own limitations concerning their all too foreseeable shots at goal, many of which were frontal, few people in the rebound zone and little aim in the passes to the centre from the wings. After all just like a week ago the team came home empty-handed, for different reasons and with a different frame of mind, nevertheless we must get back on track by being victorious at San Mamés which should become our launching pad in view of the second round of the League.