Athletic Club 1 Deportivo 2Athletic Club succumbed to Deportivo de A Coruña by 1-2 in…
Athletic Club 1 Deportivo 2
Athletic Club succumbed to Deportivo de A Coruña by 1-2 in the first match of the year 2011. A duel that ended with nine players and one that brought our five consecutive League match winning streak at San Mamés to an end. Llorente scored a goal on behalf of Athletic Club and Adrián (2) on behalf of the visiting team. San José was shown a direct red card and therefore won’t be able to take part in the Copa match, while Ustaritz was shown two yellow ones and won’t play at La Rosaleda against Málaga.
A match in which our team were clearly better than their rival, but as everyone knows in football a politically correct game is not always a synonym of victory. The Red-Whites had ball possession, and tried to play below, despite the state of the pitch at San Mamés, that rather than aiding was hindering the team who took the initiative and did not want to exploit the frontal ball on a day such as today, against a defence line of five. In spite of it all, and an unfortunate performance by the referees, the team had infinity of goal-scoring opportunities in order to get the three points, but the mistakes made in the final metres had teamed up with the negative factors already mentioned.
Despite the match having concluded in the same way it got started, with Athletic involved in attack. A few seconds after the kick-off Llorente, whilst falling, and with his right leg, beat Aranzubia who had stepped forward, but the ball went astray. Also soon afterwards Juan Rodríguez was shown the first yellow card of the match, a handicap that he couldn’t overcome as he received his second just before the break, however, sadly the two red-white centres ran the same luck.
With or without, our team gave it their all on the field, without sparing any effort in light of Wednesday’s battle. Toquero had an unbeatable opportunity in the 4th minute, but his crossed line shot just missed after having beaten Aranzubia. The next booking was for Gurpegi, before the 15-minute mark, just before David López took a foul shot and a Deportivo defender headed the ball towards his very own goalmouth, but Aranzubia, one their best players along with Adrián in today’s match, was there to send it to corner.
In the one way duel, and now in the 21st minute the first piece of bad news of this earlier than usual encounter came about, by the way there was a large crowd at San Mamés today. Adrián beat the defence, made it to the area, however, the two centres were able to recover their spots and Ustaritz cleared the ball cleanly with his heel, meanwhile the referee called a penalty to the astonishment of everyone present. Adrián chose which side to kick to and sent the ball to the back of the net, 0-1.
Athletic got even angrier and stuck firmly to the plan: attack and attack. David López finished off a shot at goal with the right that went out and at the height of offensive fervour another blow was to be had. It was in the 33rd minute and San José got a red card booking. Adrián made the most of the rebound to beat the backbone of the defence once more, San José touched his back and upon feeling this contact Adrián took a dive. On the football field the referee said it was for shirt-tugging, non-existent, and in the match report he said it was for bringing down his rival player. Either way San José went straight to the showers. One more and one less.
Athletic seemed to be indifferent because the initiative and opportunities were still theirs. We can look no further than Llorente whose header went over the crossbar in the 38th minute; two minutes later Iraola did the one-two step with Llorente and Aranzubia repelled the shot at goal with his foot, but perhaps the most spectacular play came about in the 44th minute when a it’s yours-it’s mine situation between Toquero and Muniain ended in a deep pass from the latter to Toquero and his subsequent pass to the centre was deviated by a defender with Llorente there waiting to push the ball into the back of the net.
Then the corner kick was finished off by Llorente with a header and then Gurpegi, under the posts, did what seemed to be the most difficult, send the ball, also with a header, over the crossbar. Prior to the interval it was Deportivo’s turn to receive some bookings. Laure for the umpteenth foul against Muniain and Juan Rodríguez a red card for his double booking after a move in which the public pressure gave the ref a hand. It seemed totally untrue, but at the break both teams had left the field with the score on the scoreboard being only 0-1.
The second half got underway without any changes having been made to the starting line up, though soon Antonio Tomás replaced Lassad to prop up even more Deportivos’s midfield area, nor the characteristic of the match as Athletic got going again with great determination after the two goal-scoring opportunities the first by Gurpegi, who took a shot at goal from a clearance that missed, and Llorente, who took a shot at goal with a header in the 51st minute that just missed,… and then Deportivo scored again almost without realising it. Long ball by Aranzubia, Ustaritz and Adrián jump up for the ball, the ball is loose, some ball-snatching by the forward and a shot that ends in goal after the ball having struck Gurpegi’s legs and Iraizoz’s hand. This was the first time that Adrián has scored two goals in first division.
Things were getting uphill more and more each time, but their determination was the same. In the 55th minute Muniain put the finishing touches to his slalom with a weak shot at goal that went straight to Aranzubia’s hands and in the 57th Gurpegi put the goalie to the test by finishing off a foul with a volley. Ion Vélez and Susaeta stepped in for Toquero and David López and shortly afterwards Gabilondo stepped in for Castillo, to go and play on the left wing.
Not surprisingly, you could tell that Athletic were tired because of having to play for so long with less players as well as taking the initiative non stop on a field where the pitch was of no help and an undeniable obstacle. Even more so on days like today in which our players were in a hurry to combine and try to advance down the wings against a rival who had three centres in the line up and whose only obsession was to remain well-appointed behind.
Above all the impediments and after dodging Deportivo’s timid attempts to put the match definitely to sleep, Athletic once again gave it their all in the final stretch. First Muniain with a high shot in the 77th minute, later a penalty was called for in a move by Susaeta as Colotto used his hand and elbow, however, the goal did not come about until the 86th minute when Orbaiz kicked a deep pass to Iraola who then passed it to the centre with his left so that Llorente could find the back of the net with a header.
One step forward one step back, this was the trend at the start of this New Year. Ustaritz got his second yellow card, the only one he really deserved and the team ended up with only nine players, a circumstance that was not an obstacle when keeping the rival team in their area, and then the referee… and Aranzubia teamed up. Gorka Iraizoz left his goal area to finish off a corner with a header, a change in roles, but his shot at goal was removed from the goalmouth by Manuel Pablo with his hand, but with no sanction. And to sum up, more of the same, a great foul taken by Gabilondo and a good hand by Aranzubia.
And on Wednesday the Copa encounter against the in fashion Barcelona. Let’s see if the game is worse and the goal-scoring opportunities less, but we did manage to overcome the mother of all first leg eliminatory matches.
The Athletic Club line up: Iraizoz; Iraola, San José, Ustaritz, Castillo; David López, Gurpegi, Orbaiz, Muniain; Toquero and Llorente. On the bench: Aitor Fernández; Iturraspe, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Susaeta, Ion Vélez and Javi Martínez. Those not called up: Koikili, Ocio, Iñigo Pérez, Balenziaga and Igor Martínez.
The Deportivo line up: Aranzubia; Laure, Colotto, Aythami, Lopo, Manuel Pablo; Juan Rodríguez, Rubén, Juan Domínguez, Adrián; and Lassad. On the bench: Manu; Morel, Juca, Pablo Alvarez, Antonio Tomás, Valerón and Rochela.
Referee: Rubinos Pérez. Linesmen: Calvo and Alvarez.