Athletic Club defeated Austria Wien by 0-3, the goals were scored by Llorente (2) and…
Athletic Club defeated Austria Wien by 0-3, the goals were scored by Llorente (2) and San José and already find themselves in the Round of 16 final of the Europe League, despite the encounter against Werder Bremen to be played on 16 December at San Mamés, a match which will determine who the Group L leader is.
Away from the sport, a shameful spectacle was on show in Vienna and our club was the scapegoat of something orchestrated which was written on the wall. The match had to be interrupted in the second half, first of all because of the smoke from the flares and later because of the pitch invasion by numerous fans. The security and safety of our people had not been guaranteed, neither in Vienna nor on the pitch and its surroundings.
During the morning meeting Athletic Club had already informed the UEFA representatives about the danger, that seems, was ignored. If the maximum European organism wishes to advance and puts special interest in organization, sponsorship, experimenting in light of the future with assistant referees and is trying to make the UEL prestigious, when it comes to security/safety this is one of the aspects in which they need to improve in this competition, above all because the integrity of thousands of people is at risk.
Well we hope that the drawing won’t have another trip to this city in store for us, as we had said yesterday, something always happens, and nothing good. The list of ‘incidents’ is endless and is comprised of petty affairs such as the impediment to train using the equipped goals, the over-inflated balls, the threat of turning off the lights during the training session, the prohibition of our fans to bear club emblems in the official bar, the refusal to hoist the Ikurriña alongside the other flags etc. and other affairs of a more serious nature and all to do with security which had placed our fans who had travelled there in a very difficult frame of mind. Fear was the sensation experienced personally by entire families who felt unprotected in and out of the field of play and that’s the worst that can happen at a sporting event.
And to recall what was seen, or listening to the Austrians who wanted to justify the unjustifiable, it seems a lie that a match was actually played, a young Athletic Club (on average 23.7 years of age in our starting eleven line up) but veterans in play repeating last Sunday’s recipe in Almería. The patience at the beginning resulted in a better game as the minutes ticked on and a lead on the scoreboard could be administered until the clash was well underway, the superiority without a doubt against a team that has a record of 25 consecutive home matches without a loss, and one that always scores at home.
The purple team and the visiting team at the Franz-Horr Stadium spoke and were spurred on by the public non-stop and at times this was not enough, when push comes to shove they did not stop doing so even against the gates. Perhaps the pitch was invaded in the second half because they wanted to finish off the corners themselves.
Prior to the lamentable spectacle, and in order to face up to such a decisive duel, our team introduced novelties in the starting eleven line up most notably by way of San José, Iturraspe and Muniain. A line player. Anyway, winning was Austria’s only option that would have allowed them to remain alive in the competition until the last match day round, an encounter in which our squad needed to win by 2-0 to become group leaders. However, from the initial whistle blow and without any disguise the locals spent most of the time near their own goalie rather than Iraizoz.
With this panorama in sight, Athletic kept calm. In fact not up until close to the first quarter of an hour, with a missed long-distance shot at goal by Sulimani, had the Viennese shown signs of life. They didn’t have time for much else because in minute 18 of the game Athletic’s strategy sent the sparks flying. Llorente finished off a long and risky play. First Yeste sent a centre pass that Safar was able to push to the crossbar, later a rebound to Iraola’s feet, who had passed it down the wing to Martínez, who whilst in an illegal position centred the ball so that San Jose could hammer the ball with his head which struck the crossbar and the subsequent rebound ended up at Llorente’s feet, the latter taking a shot at goal with bite and making the efforts by goalkeeper in catching it useless. Austria already had it even more difficult and if in the first half they had made some approaches, these had completely disappeared in the second, before during and after the lamentable situation experienced.
If a draw was sufficient, victory would be an indescribable pleasure. The local team’s logical reaction came about in the 25th minute from a foul taken from the halfway line combed towards their goal area by Iraola, but caught by Iraizoz, another match without a goal scored against us. Half an hour into the match Junuzovic forced Iraizoz to send his long-distance shot to corner. Their last opportunity to equalize with our team being generous, from a foul kick after San José was shown the yellow card, but the ball crashed into the Red-White player barrier. Without any more frights it was half time and the anxiety of the second half was merely a non-sporting issue, real danger for Iraizoz had been absolutely mitigated. Athletic did their own thing, without goings backwards thus not allowing for the rival’s revival, though, to tell the truth, what had come from the stands was not the best medicine that a bruised Austria needed.
If at the restart of the match a tornado was expected to step on the field, the fans, to mention something, who had hidden behind several so-called pre-constitutional Spanish flags present at this event, this was made difficult with the lighting of red flares forcing the referee to interrupt the match because with the fog and the smoke it was only possible to see a few metres in front. The majority of those present in the Franz-Horr Stadium didn’t seem to overly mind what was happening in the stands and did not even make a gesture of reproaching the behaviour of their fans or warn them of the sanction that the UEFA will impose and even more so in light of what was to follow.
The smoke had disappeared, but their eye-catching presence could not blind Athletic, our team determined as it was to keep the rival the furthest away from the goal area, a recipe which is almost always efficient in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. The local trainer sent Krammer to replace Sulimani and later tried to revitalize his forward line with the presence of a dramatically effective, but not really effective, Schumacher in Liendl’s place. What’s more, if things were already complicated for Austria, the effectiveness that our team were showing off did the rest.
Just after the one hour mark Athletic’s play reminded us that the punch and effectiveness of recent matches was still intact. Furthermore San José was the man in charge of making sure the not easily forgotten encounter turned out perfectly. It was his first match as a starting player and his first goal in an official game wearing our jersey and, besides, it was a beautiful goal.
Once again from a motionless ball, a corner taken from the left was repelled by the Austrian defender and the new centre pass to the other side of the area was returned to the centre by Javi Martínez with an energetic header and no less energetic was Mikel San José’s volley in the 63rd minute and in doing so resulting in a 0-2 outcome. With his team having little to offer, the general trend of the match, to which almost everyone succumbs to some time, of blaming the referee (some of the general public were calling out for a foul concerning Javi Martínez’s leap) and the belligerence of their own fans and more in tune with the body to body than anything else, in one of the stands a cry had already started in favour of the invasion.
Said and done. On one side the gates separating the pitch from the stands were being pushed, on the other side they invaded the field more easily. One of the assistant referees and our players were the first to see the danger, followed by the referee, who had declared a provisional halt to the match in the 66th minute. After quite a bit of tittle-tattle inside the stadium and with security/safety on one hand and the idealness of finishing the clash on the other end of the scale, it was decided that the rest of the match would be played after a public announcement was to be made by the highest Viennese leader. Obviously it was already out of their control. Louts in the stands to keep the previously perfectly prepared choreography going, the Police and their vans, the spectators in the rest of the stands as if it had nothing to do with them and the players on the green. At last, rightly so, the referee warned that if any object were to fall onto the pitch the match would be called off definitely. Strangely enough not even a paper plane was thrown.
What was left of the match was a monologue on behalf of our team, regrettable; on the contrary, Gurpegi’s muscular problem and he will be examined on Friday. Etxeberria substituted him and Athletic carried on with their more than better handling of these events. At times the Lieja spirit, with six survivors from our last visit to Vienna (Iraola, Orbaiz, Etxeberria, Gurpegi, Llorente and Yeste) had been reincarnated this cold night, but a volley by Iraola sailed over the crossbar, Llorente’s shot went astray with everything in its favour and yet another opportunity by Llorente which was even better, but well-resolved by Safar, meant that our absolute tranquillity had to wait.
Athletic seemed to get better in leaps and bounds and handled the ball well and had ball possession for longer periods. At least the striker could scare off the ghosts by finishing off a good collective play with a pass from Yeste to Etxeberria, De Marcos was offside, so the captain passed the ball to Llorente who scored the definitive 0-3. It was minute 85 of the game and after the joy that followed those five inexplicable minutes of injury time, our concern was about the evacuation of the fans and once again the worst omen came true with ambush included despite the police presence, though these seemed to be more like security guards. Happily this new incident ended with only slight injuries, just as in this evening’s trap, one of the victims at least went back home with Iraola’s jersey.
This kind of football doesn’t seem to be that of fair-play and regarding and we reiterate that if the UEFA puts such special zeal in making sure the inherent aspects concerning the sponsors and attire are complied with, there’s no harm in putting special interest in pitch security, the fundamental basis of any spectacle worth watching and even more so in Sport.
Without further delay, our flight to Gasteiz arriving at 02:30 hours and a training session on Friday evening and another on Saturday to prepare for a more than appealing match, against Valencia at San Mamés, an ideal setting to affectionately compensate an in tune team and the supporters that will never leave their side, despite all the woes by way of multi-national ultras (neo-Nazi, fascists that in the dictionary are synonyms) and those who let these people do as they please and use us as guinea pigs. We only want to talk about football and we expect to do so against Bremen and in the round of 16’s. In the meantime and if possible, we’d like to be able to enjoy football once again.