Athletic Club - UD Almería
Matchday 31

Athletic Club - UD Almería

Athletic Club
Athletic Club
UD Almería
UD Almería
  • 13'49' J.Martínez
  • 32' Gabilondo
  • 51' Llorente
  • Piatti 70'

LocationSan Mamés , Bilbo

Four goals but there could have been more

Athletic Club 4-UD Almería 1 Athletic Club thrashed UD Almería by 4-1, the goals having…

Athletic Club

Athletic Club 4-UD Almería 1

Athletic Club thrashed UD Almería by 4-1, the goals having been scored by Javi Martínez (2), Gabilondo and Llorente. Piatti scored on behalf of the Andalusians in a great match played by our team that, with 48 points and seven match days to go before the end of the League, are hanging on tight to sixth spot. Our players had merit in achieving a much more comfortable result, including the occasions in relation to a penalty when Diego Alves kept Llorente back when the score was two-zero on the scoreboard. As for Almeria, they also had goal-scoring opportunities in the home stretch, however it should be pointed out that their first goal scoring opportunity came about in the 58th minute, when the scoreboard was already displaying a resounding four to zero score. Nevertheless, the competition stops for no one and on Thursday Valencia at Mestalla awaits us, they’re in third place.

It was a colourless match, although ironically it only had a red-white hue. It may have been our team’s best match this season, especially in the first half with eight clear goal scoring opportunities, resulting in two goals. No surprises when it came to the local line up, in front of us were Almería who had some new faces in their line up with regards to those who had been regulars in recent matches. Lillo, perhaps imbued with the logical fear that is produced by our team’s winning streak at home and perhaps infected by the Guardiola ‘experience’ at the Bernabéu, left Kalu Uche, Soriano and Piatti on the sideline and put Guilherme in charge of putting the match on the right track ahead of Cisma on the wing that in theory Athletic is more potent on, despite much of the danger having come from the opposite wing.

Anyway that’s what they’re there for and that’s why coaches are hired, to send in players who they believe to be more suitable at the time of going after the match and the victory. Nonetheless, the only one who seemed to know what to do on the field was Athletic Club. Just like in the first match, strategy had laid the foundation for this triumph, but only by means of a couple of beams, as the rest was laid by their good and refined play, vertical positioning and a lot of desire in playing the ball from behind and with criterion. In the 4th minute Llorente seemed to have deflected Gabilondo’s foul kick with a header that struck the post. In the 5th a centre by Koikili from the left was well-finished off by a Llorente header and Alves had to show off to send it for a corner. It’s impossible to say the same about his intervention in the 12th after Gabilondo’s corner kick, as he left the goalmouth making it possible for Javi Martínez’s header to enter his goalmouth without any resistance.

The minutes that followed only gave way to a series of local goal scoring opportunities. Toquero, strong, determined and somewhat lucky planted himself in Almería’s area but his deadly pass could not be finished off by Llorente, but by Gabilondo instead, who without opposition, and from up close, sent the ball over the crossbar. Susaeta gave Alves a work out as a result of his foul shot, the goalkeeper caught Llorente’s line shot and in the 32nd minute Gabilondo was at peace again with one of those goals that fortunately he has us accustomed to that is to say a tremendous kick with the left from outside the area that ended with a 2-0 outcome on the scoreboard. The most difficult things become easy!

And the simplest thing would have been for Almería to leave the field with another goal scored against them before the break. Five minutes later Acasiete committed a penalty against Toquero, third time lucky, because earlier in the match in the 5th minute to be exact the Almerian Captain had clearly struck the ball with his arm and minutes later it seemed that Cisma had brought Toquero down also. Since the never highly spoken of journalists, bearers of the final judgment will be very busy with the fruits of the game they had labelled as being “the match of the millennium”, we are going to leave them alone to do their job, though it did seem, that all three moves were punishable. In spite of it all the ending did not bring about absolute happiness. After all, Llorente had taken on the responsibility, but in front of him he had a goalkeeper ready to make amends for his performance in the first goal and willing to demonstrate his well-earned reputation of being a penalty-stopper. However, he has already had four penalties scored against him out of a dozen taken since he started playing for Almería. Now he can say that the number is thirteen after catching a weak penalty kick by Llorente, who wasn’t able to trick the goalie, not by a long shot.

The everlasting metaphysical doubt was whether the team in the second half and with a “deceitful” 2-0 score, would respond with the same competence as in the first half. The answer was not blowing in the evening’s chilly wind, but on the pitch, because in the 51st minute everything was more than over and done with. Let’s say, in the twinkling of an eye.

Immediately after a high shot by Susaeta in minute 49, Javi Martínez scored the goal of the day after stealing a ball on the halfway line, penetrating the area, getting away from three opponents with very little room to move and beating Alves with the left with the ball brushing past the goalie’s post. With another celebrity surname and another more commercialized jersey his goal would have almost come straight from Mt Olympus, but it is enough for us to appreciate it at home.

The fans still had white hankies in their hands when Toquero centred from the right and where Llorente was able to remove the thorn in his side by scoring a goal after having gotten away from a defender and beating Alves with the left. Another shot at goal by Susaeta, repelled by Alves, saw the end of the perfect storm and almost the match. With everything already determined Lillo sent Soriano and Piatti to replace Vargas and Guilherme. And Almería were to go through their particular resurrection. It will never be known if this was due to the substitutions or because Athletic had taken their foot off the accelerator, but Soriano with a header and Piatti in a one to one with the left reminded everyone that Iraizoz was there and, also, that gaps did exist in, until now, the more than safe Bilbao defence.

In spite of everything Piatti, in a move slightly akin to billiards, scored in the 71st minute in what is referred to in basketball as being rubbish minutes. Goitom and again Soriano both had goal scoring opportunities, but Iraizoz stood firm. As far as the Red-Whites were concerned, and with greater serenity than expected, the encounter’s home straight was not exempt from occasions to increase the lead. For example Susaeta took a shot that went astray in a clear counterblow move; Gabilondo put Alves to the test with a foul kick and Llorente jumped higher and better than the goalkeeper, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. Likewise, De Marcos, Yeste and Orbaiz all had the opportunity to play at San Mamés again. The first, in the 79th minute, had the clearest goal scoring opportunity, but his shot at goal was not so good and once more the ball teamed up with Diego Alves.

Finally the favourable 4-1 score from the first half of the season was repeated, with the “modern” Almería being defeated here for the first time, as this was their second visit to San Mamés and for the most pessimistic, as there’s always someone, to say that mathematically speaking none of three relegation spot teams can equal the points our team has. Let’s hope that this tendency remains intact during the four finals that are still left to be played at San Mamés, which has been a stronghold in 2010. Meanwhile, an important and difficult appointment on Thursday in Valencia against a strong League rival who have their own internal Stations of the Cross to deal with. On the contrary, with the way, their game and the hunger for victory that our team has shown, anything can happen.