Sevilla and Athletic Club reached a nil-all draw at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Our team having…
Sevilla and Athletic Club reached a nil-all draw at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Our team having suffered more in the first half than in the second, especially after Romaric was sent off, we could have won and had the best goal-scoring opportunities. In the end the team is at the same distance from the European positions and the fortitude they have demonstrated after the UEL setback is a positive fact to bear in mind and something that must be renewed on Sunday against Valladolid.
Both teams started the match with a certain amount of respect, Sevilla perhaps thinking about imposing their usual steamroller pace and a doubtful Athletic following last Thursday’s setback in Brussels. What’s more, a fortuitous play provided the ammunition for Sevilla’s first charge. A lucky bounce midfield left Acosta alone against Iraizoz, but with too many metres between them, so much so that Iraola got their in time and Iraizoz spoiled Perotti’s shot at goal to follow. Nevertheless, Sevilla would not leave our end of the pitch for a while.
Almost immediately afterwards Iraizoz deflected a Kanoute header to corner, but there were still even more reasons to suffer, although De Marcos in the 13th minute had intercepted Llorente’s combing pass but his aim was off and the ball was caught by Palop, this seemed to be he red-white fate this humid evening.
After a rigorous card was shown to Iraola for wasting time and with the criterion not identical in other similar moves to follow, a foul that was taken by Perotti whose great shot at goal was well-answered by Iraizoz. The same as in the 18th minute when Iraizoz caught Stankevicius’s shot at goal.
At last a bit of calm. Sevilla could no longer keep up their cruising speed and Athletic were spot on in possessing the ball at certain times seeing that during the first minutes it was difficult for them to retain the ball and make the subsequent plays after their defence’s clearances, which meant another risk against a rival of the characteristics of Sevilla. This sensation of latent danger perhaps also influenced because of the precautions adopted in the final stages of the encounter.
In the absence of goal-scoring opportunities, the bookings had gone from the right wing to the left and Castillo was shown a card for a very awkward move after having slipped after a clearance. Half an hour into the game and two wingers who should have faced up to Perotti and Navas didn’t being obviously burdened.
As far as the Red-Whites were concerned we could, for the sake of mentioning a goal-scoring opportunity, talk about a good play that ended with a final pass to Javi Martínez, a self-pass and when he was in the area he wanted to strike the ball with so much force that the ball went out…of bounds.
As far as Sevilla were concerned, they were suffering from depth and their approaches to the area ended in long distance shots at goal, almost always from the boots of Romaric and Navas. Without much ado the halftime break was here, that is to say, time for the objective of scoring at the Sánchez Pizjuán half over, something that the immense majority of the team didn’t know how this could be done.
In spite of everything, the start of the second half brought about another wave of local attack, more limited of course in this half and that had its climax in the header by Renato which was caught by Iraizoz in the 47th minute.
After the fright, finally, it was our team’s turn, but we did not realize that the rival team also had a goalkeeper with guarantees. Firstly in the 51st minute, after a phenomenal run by De Marcos, then his pass behind that was finished off almost at point-blank range by Iturraspe but Palop sent it to corner. Iturraspe did not give up and in a play to follow he applied the pressure and this allowed the ball to be taken from Romaric close to the area and when he stood firm against Palop a local midfielder grabbed him, out of the area, nearly, but out, with the subsequent red card booking.
Peace of mind as a result of being superior in numbers and the tacit uneasiness for the new way of confronting the encounter with the desire to go up and, simultaneously, with the fear of the speed in which Jiménez’s men strike the ball and even more so following the continental anxiety.
However, Palop went on with his work. Gabilondo kicked a foul and the goalie cleared it, but also did the same with De Marcos’s connecting kick to follow. In addition, after the counter-attack Gabilondo was shown a deserved yellow card.
It was clear that the match had gone mad and the two substitutions by Jiménez to follow was an attempt to redirect the team back to the dynamics that interested Sevilla the most: in the 55th minute Lolo stepped in for Acosta and in the 60th Capel in for Perotti. To strengthen the backbone and add more speed, the target was still the counter-attack.
Besides the fans were ready to request at the slightest, as it was foreseeable, a red card. Iturraspe was on the border of the crossbar, but the referee interpreted this as a yellow card, just like the one he was to show Kanoute a little later.
Just in case in the 65th minute David Lopéz replaced Iturraspe and Gurpegi positioned himself in the double pivot role. The match was entering its decisive phase and Sevilla went for broke in the space of a few minutes, first with a run by Stankevicius in the 67th minute, resulting in the almost usual event in which the ball bounces off one of our players and almost ends up being a goal for the other team, but this time after striking Amorebieta the ball ended up being a corner kick with Iraizoz having cleared it previously. Shortly afterwards Kanoute finished off a foul kick with a header but it went astray.
On the contrary, in the 73rd minute Athletic Club went back to having a crystal clear goal-scoring opportunity. Llorente received a pass from the right, turned around and his shot at goal to follow was saved by Palop, though seen from the outside it seemed more logical for the forward to prolong the ball towards Gabilondo, who was unmarked
Navas also demonstrated that he could be dangerous with a header in the 74th minute and almost jointly Susaeta replaced De Marcos. A quarter of an hour left, Athletic had the ball, the case even being that Iraizoz was shown a yellow card for wasting time when it came to putting the ball back into play as he was trying to pass the ball in short.
It was a dilemma between the heart and head for our men. When the result is adverse generally the organ prevails over the brain, but the impression given was that it was more important to scratch up a point that would make us forget about the still recent fiasco, to put all our money on one horse to avoid the disappointment in the last minute. In fact, we don’t need to go far back in time, the 2005-2006 season, to remember how Athletic, with a 1-1 draw on the scoreboard, were superior in number against Sevilla for an hour after Drago was sent off in the 40th minute of the game but nevertheless still ended up losing by 2-1 thanks to the goal scored by Kanoute. Perhaps that’s why in some moves they needed convincing to put their feet on the accelerator and the only action worth mentioning was the long distance shot by Susaeta taken in the 82nd that was caught, as they wouldn’t have it any other way, by Palop.
Despite the absence of danger at either end, the movement on the benches continued until the very end: Rodri was sent in to replace Renato in the 86th minute and Iñigo Pérez in for Gabilondo in the 88th. What’s more, Susaeta also had time to receive a yellow card. In the end there were no goals, but there was one good point to bring home from a difficult football field, the qualification for Europe is at the same distance and the most important thing is, besides getting a point from a stadium that is usually evasive, the team have demonstrated sufficient determination to show signs of wanting to pave the way for a good final straight in the Championship stakes. Let’s see if on Sunday against Valladolid the above-mentioned feeling can be confirmed.