Athletic Club - Xerez CD
Matchday 21

Athletic Club - Xerez CD

Athletic Club
Athletic Club
Xerez CD
Xerez CD
  • 2' Muniain
  • 64'87' Llorente
  • Moreno 10'
  • Mario B. 40'

LocationSan Mamés , Bilbo

Driven comeback

Athletic Club beat Xerez 3-2 at San Mamés, one goal by Muniain and two scored…

Athletic Club

Athletic Club beat Xerez 3-2 at San Mamés, one goal by Muniain and two scored by Llorente, who left Moreno and Mario Bermejo’s men with nothing and which allowed our team to be back on a winning streak and in seventh place in the league ladder. The first goal scored by Iker Muniain also came to nothing at the halfway mark but in the second half the Red-White were able to bounce back thanks to the already mentioned goals scored by Llorente and as a result of a lot drive and running a lot of risks, though on this occasion it paid off.

Things got off to a dream start. Only a couple minutes into the match, a low ball by Llorente with the head was intercepted by Toquero whose unexpected centre pass, because of the difficulty involved, went towards Muniain, who with a header scored the first goal after getting past Redondo, this was his comeback to the starting eleven line up. Because of this season’s precedents at San Mamés, and the fact that “it would be our turn” to have goals scored against us in the second half, the first half seemed to predict a magnificent control of the early lead, but this was not to be and Xerez, with everything to win and nothing to lose, went on to make room for themselves in the match.

Without boasting, but all too easily, they were reaching Iraizoz’s goal area. First in minute 8 of the game when indecisiveness allowed the former Red-White Bermejo, the sharpest by far, to elevate the ball over Iraizoz, but the goalkeeper was able to clear the ball whilst on the goal line. Almost immediately a pass was taken under pressure by Momo from the left wing that at first sight didn’t look dangerous but was then perfectly struck from outside the area by Moreno, one of the anti-Llorente players on duty, who scored the equalizing goal.

Perhaps because they are not used to it, having a goal scored against them in the first half, made our team look anxious, but at the first opportunity the team stepped up to take the match back to the rival area, for example when Javi Martínez who seemed to have been obstructed in the 12th minute while taking a shot at goal from within the Andalusian area.

And after a doubtful throw in, we went on to see something new with the referee becoming the star of the show once more. In an offensive move by Xerez’s Álvarez Izquierdo the referee got in the way and kicked the ball, we can now say that the metaphor, where it talks about a referee who puts on a team jersey, is tangible as the ref with his heel, passed the ball voluntarily to Xerez, who found the situation amusing. Nevertheless, he could have resolved the issue with a neutral throw-in, but called a foul instead in favour of the worst affected, which was our team, due to his carelessness.

The journalists and wise experts can analyse this and the other plays, though they may wish to place it directly among one the most seen “heel” sequences of the season (remember Guti, Navas and Izquierdo?). Leaving the astonishment behind the teams went on to play with little rhythm, a lot of imprecision and almost no goal-scoring opportunities except for one of those balls laced with poison, that Iraizoz sent to corner, and the foul taken by Orbaiz that was cleared by Renan in the 25th.

Athletic were more nervous than usual, maybe also influenced by the unwritten legend about losing against the league’s wooden spoon holders. On the contrary, Xerez moved around the field calmly while some drowned out catcalls could be heard in the last stretch of the first half, given that activity in the areas had returned once more, but this time with a different outcome.

Firstly, the referee, who has not called a single penalty this season and only seems to have the motto of “bad luck” in his repertoire, did not see a shot at goal taken by Muniain that was repelled by Gioda with his two hands in the 36th minute, however we also must admit that the experts and never highly spoken of journalists have spent quite some time caught up in the most ancient of troubles. Let’s face it, they couldn’t care less about us as long as there are things that end with “atos” to put on the radio, the TV or put down on paper.

Even less amusing was the outcome in minute 40 of the game, a good offensive move on behalf of the visitors led to Momo placing the ball in the area by way of a pass to Bermejo and the latter, with great class, got past Iraizoz, who had stepped out the area, and scored their second goal (1-2). A hard blow but Athletic got back on their feet before the break by means of Llorente who had taken a shot at goal that was cleared for a corner by Renan. After a couple of rows in the Andalusian area the players from both teams went off the field for the halftime break. Some with the hope of continuing their climb up the League ladder and others, ours, thinking on how to prevent them from doing so. From the bench, Caparrós took Orbaiz out of the game so that Susaeta could play on the right wing, sending Gurpegi to play in the double pivot position. An “all aboard” call just like any other with the perception of late having goals scored against them at the start of second half … but not at San Mamés.

From the initial whistle blow at the restart of the match a kind of in for a penny, in for a pound approach could be made out and Xerez sought refuge in the proximities of their area waiting for the pace of the locals to die down. Llorente fired away but missed, in minute 48 Gurpegi finished a shot off with a header and later tried again from the area line. Athletic pushed hamster style, you know those little animals that run kilometres in a wheel found in their cages, they take a run-up, stop, get off, scan the horizon and even though they are in the same place they keep on insisting in making that wheel turn, it’s one of those virtues that at the same time is one of our team’s defects and today was one of those days in which the sweat provided almost exclusively the fuel our team needed.

Those in blue, on the other hand, did their bit as the minutes went by with a shot at goal by Keita going high, another by Bermejo which went out and a great header that went high, putting the fear of God into more than one person at the one hour mark. They didn’t persevere in the attempt, because soon there was to be a change in decoration. First of all by way of local substitutions (minute 61, De Cerio stepped in for Gurpegi with Toquero as close to Javi Martínez as he was to Llorente) and their own (minute 63, Alex Bergantiños replaced Víctor Sánchez) and secondly, and fundamentally, because in the 64th minute, following a pass from Susaeta to the centre, a great Llorente header was struck with an unstoppable angle. Two all.

There was a match in play and Athletic had let down their guard, that’s to say their pace, and the team at the bottom of the league tried to move their lines forward, however, the next goal-scoring opportunity was also Athletic’s with a high header by Martínez in minute 71 of the game. Gorosito wanted a slower pace and sent Viqueira in to replace Momo. It was now more difficult to reach Renan’s area, which is why Susaeta gave him work from a distance in minute 80, just before the two coaches had made all of their allowed substitutions, in the 81st minute David López substituted Toquero and in the 82nd Alustiza was sent in to replace Carlos Calvo.

With the everlasting hope of enjoying the last minutes of the matches played at San Mamés, there were at least, a couple of goal-scoring opportunities, the first and definitive one in the 87th minute when Susaeta kicked a pass to the centre and up against the passiveness of the defensive line Llorente came from behind and deviated the ball into the back of the net with his left. Jubilation in the stands that had been even more in tune than in other important matches and then came a couple of minutes that soothed the suffering except when Alustiza was just about to strike a ball that had hung in the air, from the left wing.