Victory, great ambiance and emotional farewellsAthletic Club has defeated RC Deportivo A Coruña (2-0) in…
Victory, great ambiance and emotional farewells
Athletic Club has defeated RC Deportivo A Coruña (2-0) in the last match of the current Liga. Muniain and Javi Martinez scored the goals for our team. This is how they’ve collaborated in closing off the season on the day three players -Joseba Etxeberria, Armando and Muñoz- bid farewell. There was a great ambiance, two teams that have played without pressure and an emotional afternoon for those present in San Mamés. In addition, anyone wishing to participate in the tribute to the captain will be able to do so on Monday, with kick off at 19:00 hours, also in La Catedral, in the celebration of the ‘Impossible Match’ between Athletic Club and a team from the Foundation, made up of a couple of hundred kids.
The match in itself had few stories to tell, or what it did have came more from the emotional farewells than from the final result. To round things off, this meet had a similar component even for the referee Mejuto González and he put forth all his effort so that the encounter would end peacefully and in harmony, so much so that, using his good judgment, he decided to join the celebration and leave the cards under cover.
In fact, the first attempt almost became an own goal when in the minute 6 Koikili, with a header, put Armando’s concentration to the test. Little by little the rojiblancos took control of the match and Aranzubia’s substitute began to accumulate work. First after a forced shot-on-goal by Llorente and shortly after to pick up a ball from the net after a shot that Etxeberria opened up down the left wing, Muniain cut off Manuel Pablo and shot with his right into the right angle; the metaphor of relief.
Athletic Club continued its course, slowly but surely, supported by a midfield that seemed less suitable for ball recoveries, but that exceeded the audacity of its youth. If we take things into account, on the pitch were Muniain (17) Martinez (21), Iturraspe (21) and Susaeta (22). This last one set up the ball so that somebody pushed in the heat of the local offensive. Our team set forth the desire, the fighting spirit, the occasions and even the candidates for the farewell. In the minute 25, Llorente has shot from outside the area and Manu deflected to corner. Shortly after, Etxeberria, who was more set on passing than shooting on goal, despite enjoying opportunities, slipped in but was unable to find a striker. From the stands the only wish was that Joseba would score and in the 34th a header pass by Llorente almost made it to his feet. Shortly before that Lotina had to substitute Adrián because of an injury and Iván Perez occupied his place.
The match sort of dozed off, but only for five minutes, because since Lassad shot on goal and barely missed wide in the 40th, until the interval there was no room for boredom. A defender repelled a shot by Muniain, Manu deflected a left footed shot by Susaeta to corner and Armando warded off a free kick by Iván Perez with his fists.
On re-start of play Etxeberria had ‘the occasion’ from a pass by Muniain, but his shot with the left barely missed wide. On the opponent’s bench, the Galicians came out more powerful than in the first half and the next three attempts have been theirs. Juan Rodriguez and Iván Perez ended high and in the 51st Armando blocked a shot by Antonio Tomás.
On the hour of play, Muñoz substituted Iturraspe who was able to bid farewell while playing in San Mamés. In the minute 64, a cross by Muniain was miraculously not turned into goal by Llorente and the match continued in is medium pace, filled with joy and options at both goalmouths, more in the visitor’s of course, until the end.
Deportivo already counted on Mista in Lassad’s place and a shot by Iván Perez into Armando’s hands lead up to the most exciting moment of the match. This arrived in the minute73 when the dazzling one donning the number 17, with Toquero waiting in the wing, brought Joseba Etxeberria’s fruitful and unforgettable career as an Athletic Club player to a finish. The long, hard-felt and warm ovation by the fans, the hugs by his teammates and rivals, and even that of the referee, joined the images of fifteen intense seasons defending our colours until the emotional glass overflowed and the tears filled with pain and pride, of sadness because of the farewell and joy for his accomplishments, filled his face and reflected in thousands of anonymous eyes. Some more than others, but all have been conscious for a moment that 514 matches and 104 goals, are easier said than done, and besides being within the reach of few, they will never be forgotten.
With the central interval past, football is once again what it was. That is, Llorente went after the goal by land, sea and air and his umpteenth attempt has been a heroic shot with his left from a distance to the crossbar in the minute 75 and two minutes later Javi Martinez did find his reward after beating Manu with the right from the edge of the area. The aforementioned Llorente, with a header, and Muniain with his left, also enjoyed occasions, but both finishes were wide. Today, those goals were not strictly necessary to certify that the Liga had ended with a positive note, sincere thanks to the services rendered and the sensation that the team can still give a lot more of itself starting next August.