Athletic Club 1 Anderlecht 1Athletic Club and Anderlecht reached a 1-1 draw in the 1st…
Athletic Club 1 Anderlecht 1
Athletic Club and Anderlecht reached a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg match of the UEL’s round of 16 final. San Jose’s goal in the second half equalized the one scored by Biglia in the first and thus the elimination will be determined in Brussels, where the Belgians are heading for at the moment with the tag of being favourites. Our team weren’t lucky enough, neither inside nor outside the stadium, at least with some of the rival team’s fans. Let’s hope that in the 2nd leg match, which it is supposed will be a heated affair because of the uncertainty on the scoreboard, the generous effort gone to waste today will have at least its reward. And almost without realizing it, on Sunday back to the League with the visit on behalf of Tenerife, a most important match when it comes to the team consolidating their high place in the standings.
The start for our team had gone according to the solemnity and the ‘European’ ambience surrounding the match. No ceasefire for the rivals, with attempts by the locals to apply the pressure ahead with reiterated ball possession, attempts to make the ball reach our flanks via the movement of several of our footballers’ legs and when this couldn’t be done, the rival was able to play their game and pile on the pressure, more local attempts with balls mainly being directed towards Llorente or behind the full-backs. It was a clash between two strong and very even teams.
Little by little the goal-scoring opportunities came, although they were not overly clear. A header by Llorente went high in the 4th minute, while at San Mamés one could start to contemplate scenes that had already been witnessed in the city throughout the day, for example as the first minutes went by seats were sent flying towards the Eastern Preferential stand and flares were being lighted, always originating in one of the areas occupied by the Belgian fans.
Athletic continued doing their own thing, which was to hammer away in the hope of finding a gap through sheer pace. Llorente had another go with a header in the 10th from a centre by Gurpegi, though with the passing of time a certain degree of confusion by the locals went hand in hand with the awakening of their rivals, just like what happened in the stands later, it was like that enigma of what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Now in minute 13 of the game Legear with a header finished off, quite easily, after having intercepted a ball kicked to the centre from the left wing, which Iraizoz was able to clear with his fists. Legear, who was running on empty by the end of the clash, was given the first of the three yellow cards shown in the encounter, all to Anderlecht players. Boussafa connected a good centre kick in the 24th, which Gorka Iraizoz sent to corner without difficulty. This was the worst moment for us, with a certain degree of inconsistency and murmurs coming from the stands just like in the 29th minute when Ustaritz with a header unintentionally passed the ball to Lukaku, who all alone had taken a crossed shot at goal that missed.
Athletic got back into the swing of things with a volley from Yeste deflected by the goalkeeper while Llorente was being tripped up at the edge of the area. Shortly afterwards everything became distorted. A rapid counterattack play was finished off by Lukaku with a couple of side-steps and a medium high shot at goal that Iraizoz was able to repel in short, with the sensation that he was going to gather the ball up again, but Biglia was on the ball and only had to push it towards the back of the net..
All uphill and even more so as the second match will be played far from Bilbao. More smoke, this time purple, at a freezing San Mamés and a very hesitant team that at least had managed to force a dangerous situation before the break, but Proto ruined it with his knee in the one to one against De Marcos.
Two hot topics during the interval, the first one with reference to an intense match, with initiative, pace, desire to move the ball about, few punches and with a result of being behind on the scoreboard and, the second topic with reference to what was happening away from the pitch especially with the precedent of the varied incidents in which some of the Anderlecht fans already found themselves in, not a completely novel circumstance this season.
After the fans had eaten their sandwiches, Muniain substituted Yeste and then gave way to the frantic re-start to the match in which the local need had combined with a mixture of respect, fear and lack of spark from the rival team. A minute had not gone passed when Martínez created the first goal-scoring opportunity, Llorente had called for a penalty afterwards for a ball that seemed to have bounced off a defender’s knee and the spectators, irregular in the first half, were born again with the idea of the equalizer.
In minute 54 of the game Susaeta replaced Gurpegi and soon afterwards he created danger with a kick from the outside the area, close to the goal post that San Jose pushed towards the back of the net. The drive was prolonged for quite a few minutes more with a shot at goal from the centre by Susaeta that was saved by Proto and, especially, with the clearest goal-scoring opportunity by means of a Llorente header that just missed when the goal had already been sung…
Later Toquero stepped in for De Marcos and Anderlecht created their first, and clearest, goal-scoring opportunity during the entire second half with the same protagonist as always, as it was Lukaku who, in the 68th, had kicked an extremely strong shot at goal which went straight out. There was still petrol in the tanks, but the Anderlecht defence, especially their centres who did a good job, were able to maintain the situation without going crazy, unlike what was happening away from the field.
The recently sent in Toquero finished off with a header that had gone astray and Orbaiz took a long distance shot at goal with suspense as the ball touched a defender and ended up being a corner kick. A quarter of an hour left. This being the riskiest moment in any match that has an expiry date in the next 2nd leg match, because going full-bore in attack means taking risks and even more so if in front there seems to be a team that is striving to kick back. And because there is no team in the world that is capable of taking on such disputes with so much pace during the momentous minutes.
De Sutter sent Lukaku to the showers and for more bad luck; Javi Martínez received a strong blow in his right knee that will keep him on the sideline for a while. In spite of everything, in the 92nd minute Llorente had another goal-scoring opportunity, this time on the half turn, but his shot got lost in the stands and what was not resolved at home will have to be done away from home. Or at least an attempt to do so with the same determination.
As soon as the final whistle could be heard, what was to follow was nothing but the result of a series of events that had occurred before the start of the match and outside San Mamés. And here, in addition to bad luck, an enormous doses of foolishness among the fans, who are uncontrollable according to their club and that this, they say, was the first time they had behaved in such a way, though they gave the impression that they had come with the lesson and the intention of provoking well-learnt. Of course at home we are also responsible, no doubt, but at the expense of the interpretations, less biased than those of the experts who hand down their verdicts, that will soon start to spread, definitely these are not the first, nor the most important. All of this on the day in which Austria’s punishment had been announced; though it sounds like a euphemism, for the incidents that took place in Vienna on December 3, 2009, their pitch will be closed for two matches, maybe only for one match, if their behaviour is good, and a fine of 20,000 euros.
It’d be a joke if we weren’t aware of all the events that took place first hand or if we didn’t think about what could happen to our fans in Brussels in one week’s time, bearing in mind that the incidents caused by the Austrians here in Bilbao did not reach the same heights as those experienced today at San Mamés. Let’s hope that there’ll be time to reflect next week and meanwhile we must recharge our batteries be means of a league victory.