Athletic Club 1 Osasuna 0Athletic Club beat Osasuna by 1-0. The goal was the work…
Athletic Club 1 Osasuna 0
Athletic Club beat Osasuna by 1-0. The goal was the work of Gurpegi in the 92nd minute and our team, besides achieving those three very important points, are still the only team to have scored a goal in all of their League commitments. Despite the lack of good play, this triumph which came as a result of our confidence in our virtues up until the very last moment, includes strategic exploitation, without being scored against, something noteworthy after a week in which the goals scored against us (in Madrid) were almost exclusively the talk of the town.
This victory, because of the resistance on behalf of our opponents and because of how and when it came, was quite difficult to attain. Perhaps due to the last home matches we had become spoilt, or perhaps the team started the match more coldly than usual or maybe, contrary to the custom of the last seasons, because Osasuna put into practise almost everything they had rehearsed in order to counteract the local power.
With such a panorama it’s not strange that the first goalscoring opportunity was for the visitors. Exactly in the 11th minute of play when a centre pass that had been taken on the right was finished with a header by Monreal, but Iraizoz replied with a good save that presaged a post-renewal and in tune evening and fortunately that’s how it was. The Red-White response came at the boots of Muniain, shot went high, and then with Llorente, exactly the same, but with the left.
Athletic couldn’t find the way to move the ball around as they had done during their previous home games, and Osasuna, in spite of playing away from home, after countless defeats and only having scored one goal, from penalty, coped well with relative calm without having a centre-forward. To give you an idea, it would be as if our team were to step onto the pitch at Anoeta with Muniain, Susaeta, David López or Gabilondo as the centre forward. What was a plus, perhaps in the long run was not, seeing that besides the already-mentioned Monreal, their clearest goalscoring opportunities came about with players such as Juanfran and Damiá, not akin to the goal-man stereotype.
Anyhow, the match was an open affair with opportunities of differing levels of danger at both ends. For example, in chronological order, there was a missed shot at goal by Soriano taken from a centre by Monreal; a direct corner kick by Susaeta that Ricardo had let go by and struck the crossbar; a centre that Llorente couldn’t get to in a question of millimetres; Masoud was unable to find an angle in the 26th minute and Juanfran’s half-volley shot at goal missed.
In the 29th minute Llorente finished off a shot while next to the post, but his header missed, with Ricardo just standing there as a mere spectator. Susaeta took another foul shot with a wicked intention and, this time, Ricardo cleared the shot with his fists and Llorente, in the 37th minute, finished off with a forced header following some good collective play. These were the best minutes for the locals. Nevertheless, the clearest of the Red-White opportunities could be seen in the 44th minute when Llorente finished off a corner kick with a header. With Ricardo already beaten Monreal had to clear the ball from under the posts and Gurpegi, with everything in his favour, could not connect with the ball well when he was only a couple of metres from the goal line. Neither did the rebound off Muniain give any returns. Until the interval, strategy was the fundamental core of our offensive work, but the fruit was not there for the picking until the end of the match.
Athletic’s entrance onto the pitch in the second half was more energetic. A shot at goal by Javi Martínez with the left and a volley caught by Ricardo were our credentials, however, it all came to a simple declaration of intentions. The bookings of Amorebieta, orange, like the previous one against Puñal and later against Monreal were the only noteworthy incidents of these minutes. Osasuna kept to their game, waiting for the anxiety, nerves and the cold environment to betray the Red-Whites. A sample of the anything but warm environment that at times surrounded the match, was when the host team’s fans reproached the Osasunitas for their constant whistling at Muniain that lasted well into the second half, as you can imagine it was a “hot” match.
On field, the already-mentioned Muniain had moved to the right attack position when Caparrós sent Gabilondo in to replace Susaeta in the 62nd minute. However, the supporters got even hotter under the collar when, in the 64th minute, it seemed that Flaño had committed a penalty against Toquero. It was not a big deal seeing that the protagonist was not questioned about this in the press conference room at San Mamés. Shortly afterwards a volley by Javi Martínez went high, and in the 67th minute, Iraizoz outdid himself in his save of Juanfran’s great left kick, which was Osasuna’s other big opportunity of the evening besides the great shot at goal by Damiá that was too high.
There was only a quarter of an hour left to the match when Pandiani stepped in for Soriano and David López for Toquero, with Muniain now behind Llorente. At times like these it’s obvious that the following theory had crossed the minds of more than one or two people, locals and others, both on and off the field i.e., when you don’t win you don’t lose what you already have. With only five minutes to go Ion Vélez replaced Muniain, later Vadoçz replaced Masoud and even Camacho was on the verge of sending Nelson in so as to take up time during injury time. Athletic, with all their shortcomings, did not want to let this last opportunity go by and nothing new but at San Mamés each strategic move is cheered on as if it were like half a goal. David López took a precise corner kick and Gurpegi’s unappealable header did the rest.
Our strategy paid off, which is not bad in light of the duel at Anoeta against another team with a similar frame of mind, without any worries in the standings and strong at home. We already have the only topic that will be spoken about this week. Unfortunately, without any goals being scored against us, we’ll talk almost exclusively about the lack of returns as visitors. Let’s see if there’s the possibility that the latest topic of debate also becomes a thing of the past.