Athletic Club 1- RCD Mallorca 3 Athletic Club lost 1-3 against RCD Mallorca. Llorente scored…
Athletic Club 1- RCD Mallorca 3
Athletic Club lost 1-3 against RCD Mallorca. Llorente scored our team’s goal and Castro, Nunes and Aduriz scored the visitors’ goals. A result that takes away the possibilities of playing in European competition next season, although while there are still options our team must continue in the fight, to see if it is also possible to do it with more luck, efficiency and better play than today’s game. Our opponents did not deserve too much in the first half, despite the fact that at half-time the score was almost miraculously equalised. In the second half, on the other hand, things went awry from the start and attempts to level the score were futile against a well-placed opponent who were able to manage their advantage calmly. Ideally, the same style and know-how demonstrated on the pitch by Manzano’s team would have its equivalent in the offices when it comes to fulfilling their commitments, more than anything else so that we could all play the difficult and demanding sporting game with the same deck of cards.
In terms of football without additives or conditioning, sixth place was within reach before the game started. At the end of the game, there was no choice but to say goodbye to a phenomenal home run and settle for eighth. San Mamés augured well, but not quite. As a prophecy with the outcome of the match, we can say that perhaps it was not the atmosphere that the most important match of the season needed, or at least it did not reach the climax of other matches.
Be that as it may, the Red and Whites did not start the game badly and in the third minute an accurate through ball from Gurpegi left Toquero in the clear, who alone against Aouate was either naive or lacked patience when it came to beating the goalkeeper.
There was a mutual respect in the evolution of both teams, with attacking teams, but with the home side trying to short-circuit any attempt at a counter-attack and the visitors trying to close down the passing lanes that ended up with Llorente. In spite of everything, in the 10th minute, the striker finished off a good service from Toquero at the near post, although Aouate deflected it behind for a corner. On the opposing side, the argument revolved around the relentless fight posed by Aduriz, well supported by Webo, who did not let up in intensity despite the early card shown to the former Red and Whites’ player.
In the 16th minute, Gabilondo had one of them, but his left-footed shot after Llorente’s flick went narrowly wide. However, there was something in the air, and it wasn’t exactly the written and oral demands for the payment of Aduriz’s transfer fee. No. Our opponents today were a team, as well as representing a debtor club, well worked and well planted on the pitch and the way they tried to attack their pressure and their defensive framework has not aroused the full support of the best fans in the world and it never rains to everyone’s liking.
Perhaps some thought that Mallorca’s fourth place, 35 games in European places, was a coincidence, or that a team in the relegation places had arrived (a circumstance that does not guarantee anything either) and that, therefore, trying at times to get the ball played to gain superiority in other areas, with greater or lesser success, was worthy of reprobation and that things were meant to be sent solely and exclusively up the pitch. Or it was simply a reflection of the nervousness that affects us all when the decisive matchdays arrive and there is something at stake, even when we are talking about a possible prize.
Perhaps it’s true that such things are more attractive in theory, more attractive when done by opponents and, in the meantime, we are more comfortable in the metaphor of the player who crashes into the fence after a titanic effort, something that came true in the first half and almost cost Toquero an injury to his leg (bearing the weight of a hundred-year-old press is no small task) and which also serves to illustrate the problems our players had in finding loopholes in the opposition defence, a constant at San Mamés, also a symptom of our team’s tightness.
Athletic were more vertical and Mallorca had, perhaps, less need and more patience. That’s why their first warning didn’t come until the 26th minute when Webo’s header/prolongation went high. It was an isolated action, and although the match was neither forwards nor backwards, in another isolated action, a corner that was and wasn’t, in the end it was awarded and Gonzalo Castro, with a header, gave the Palma team the lead in the 43rd minute. A hard blow, a goal with a psychological label without the rival deserving it, which unfortunately is also very common in some matches. And the psychological goal was followed by an even more emotionally charged one, as with just over a minute gone Iturraspe sent the ball into the box and there Llorente connected with one of those unstoppable diving headers.
With the noble aim of taking advantage of the morale boost provided by a more than deserved equaliser, even if it was achieved in extremis, Caparrós withdrew Iturraspe and introduced Susaeta, moving Gurpegi to the centre of midfield. However, Mallorca not only did not feel the blow, but also had the ability to settle the game. After a shot by Aduriz, the subsequent corner kick, a dispensable corner, was headed into the net by Nunes in the 49th minute with his right foot, but the worst thing was that shortly after, in the 52nd minute, a one-two with Julio Álvarez was finished off by Aduriz with an unstoppable ball into the top corner.
The game had become impossible before its time. Muniain replaced Koikili and Gabilondo moved to left-back. Athletic pushed and pushed, without precision, in spasms, and also, as was logical, left many gaps, but it was the risk that had to be taken at the cost of scares, such as a header by Aduriz stopped by Iraizoz or, late in the second half, a shot by Castro against the post, a shot in which he was injured. Yeste came on for Gurpegi in the 67th minute, but little changed apart from giving the fans the chance to get involved in the unedifying duel of philias and phobias.
Sadly, there were few Red and Whites’ chances that could have aroused a consensus in the stands, if only a high shot by Iraola from outside the area and a header by Toquero into the hands of Aouate.
If things were looking bad, they could get worse, and they did. Javi Martínez’s muscular discomfort forced him to play as a striker and Toquero to recycle himself in the double pivot. The midfielder, on a pass from the repositioned striker, had the chance in stoppage time to score the often-mentioned “goal of the lame”, but it was not even the day for that. The worst thing is that there are only three games left and the best thing is that on Wednesday there is a chance to get back to winning ways and, therefore, that hope can be reborn.