Sporting 0-Athletic Club 0Sporting and Athletic Club reached a nil all draw at El Molinón….
Sporting 0-Athletic Club 0
Sporting and Athletic Club reached a nil all draw at El Molinón. Our team had more merit by means of goal-scoring opportunities to bring home the three points, including a penalty that Juan Pablo deflected to Gabilondo, but in the end we must settle for the result in our third consecutive match without having any goals scored against us. The European aspirations are still intact and will need to be ratified on Saturday against Getafe.
Despite the local pressure in the early minutes of each half, and the fact that our team had more merit to win and did not do so, the only consolation is that Athletic has kept on with their healthy habit of coming back from El Molinón with some point in the bag. As already mentioned, the start on behalf of Sporting was explosive with a shot at goal by Barral that was deviated to corner by Amorebieta and after the corner kick came a header that was caught by Iraizoz. Only one minute into the game. Later, Sporting’s supremacy, all in all, was more theoretical than anything else, but without any danger.
For the sake of equilibrium, the match entered into a phase without much spark, but as the minutes went by Athletic started to feel more at ease and it was Sporting who were waiting behind for an opportunity that did not come. Following a period without any goal-scoring opportunities, a drop shot by Llorente was finished off with everything in his favour by Gabilondo in the 22nd minute, but in the last moment he could not connect the ball well and it went high. Two minutes later Iraola had to leave the field of play with shoulder problems after carrying out a centre pass just after the kick off.
Susaeta took his place and Gurpegi was sent to cover the right wing. Fortunately the team was not affected and were increasingly more comfortable. So that the reigning equilibrium was almost complete, Sporting also had to do without due to the injury of their starting right winger, as Sastre left the pitch and José Ángel, a closed leftie, took on the responsibility of defending the opposite flank and, besides, becoming one of the biggest creators of danger as far as the rivals were concerned.
Just like the rain, the match had some short dull spells and after one of them a series of opportunities came about, the majority by those who were dressed in black yesterday. Chronologically, Camacho on the half turn in the 37th, out; a great shot at goal by Javi Martínez from outside the area repelled by Juan Pablo in the 39th; in the following move Llorente finished off with a header but he missed; in the 42nd Susaeta crossed a gentle shot with the right far from Juan Pablo’s reach, but without finding the goal and to sum up, Javi Martínez finished off with a header from the goalmouth, but it went over the crossbar.
The start of the second half was identical to that of the first, with the Asturians attacking, on a couple of occasions, Botía almost accidentally and José Ángel with a wicked line shot in the 51st, although Iraizoz’s hand had not gone behind. After having weathered the storm it was Toquero’s turn and his contribution in the offence department went “in crescendo”. First, in the 53rd minute he finished off a line shot from outside the area saved by Juan Pablo, in the next minute he finished with a chipping pass from a centre by Gabilondo, but it went out, and the third, enormously dangerous and the maximum penalty before and after the kick. He read well Juan Pablo’s short kick-off, got ahead of José Ángel and waited for the physical contact to be made so that the referee could call a penalty.
Unfortunately the goalkeeper made amends and Gabilondo joined the list of players that missed on the eleven metre line in this 2009/2010 season to date, five unconverted penalties taken by five different players (Llorente, Javi Martínez, David Lopéz, Iraola and Gabilondo) from a dozen kicks and seven converted (Llorente-3-, Martínez-2-, Etxeberria and Iraola).
To transform several of them into points would only make us green with envy, but not even this setback could intimidate our players, who kept on having more merit to win without paying any mind to Juan Pablo who was still there in person, for example, a centre by Gabilondo is finished off with a header by Llorente and deflected by the goalie. David Lopéz stepped in for Gabilondo in the 69th and soon afterwards kicked a foul that Llorente with a header had passed to Javi Martínez, but his volley sailed over the crossbar. Another opportunity gone.
Preciado tried to regain control and, knowing that the battle was taking place in the centre, did not go for the classic forward but, firstly, Kike Mateo who positioned himself behind Barral, had replaced Luis Morán, and De las Cuevas was sent to the right and shortly was to be replaced by Carmelo.
The panorama did not vary. Our team wanted the three points and although Sporting did not give up, Athletic were obviously more dangerous. Despite this, even the one point almost went up in smoke, as almost in the 90th minute Gurpegi had to extract Kike Mateo’s shot at goal from under the posts, but it wasn’t over yet as the newcomer to the field Munian was unable to finish off a Susaeta’s centre first time round, but did retransform it into a deadly pass for Llorente, who with the left, missed.
A pity, but after Saturday’s match our aspirations are still intact, that is to say, Europe is only one point away, with still twelve matches to go. Next stop is at San Mamés and our rival will be Getafe who surely have some continental hope making this match a very attractive engagement.