Málaga CF 1 – Athletic Club 1Athletic Club brought home a point from their visit…
Málaga CF 1 – Athletic Club 1
Athletic Club brought home a point from their visit to Malaga. Demichelis scored a goal with a header in the second half and Javi Martínez scored the equalizer in the very last minute of injury time, also with a header. All of which occurred in a very fought out encounter, in which the evenness was the dominating trend with the Red-Whites controlling the first quarter of an hour of each half and then the locals. A duel in which the outcome of the set pieces were also even.
The Copa hangover has gone as a result of getting this point and now it’s time to think about the top spots with two consecutive matches to be played on San Mamés’s renovated pitch, precisely against Real Racing Club and Hércules. The debut of Junior player, Borja Ekiza, a centre, should also be pointed out along with San José’s fifth yellow card booking, which prevents him from taking on the Cantabrian team, unless the appeal is accepted.
Despite expecting the opposite, it was Athletic who affronted the first minutes with more determination, knowing that getting off to a bad start, especially away form home, could condition the course of the match. Then a foul shot taken by David López was caught by Asenjo. The fact that the ball was in Málaga’s possession was almost an exception during these minutes as Athletic had monopolized the control of the game, though they did suffer from a lack of depth.
Málaga, behind the scenes, had taken note that they would base their offence in long passes in order to get behind the visiting team’s unknown defence line, just like Deportivo did one week ago, and, especially, in the set pieces with a name cropping up, that of Duda, although the equilibrium was also reflected in this aspect.
Despite not reaching the rival goal area, in the 11th minute a great long distance shot by Iturraspe taken with the left was sent to corner by Asenjo and in the 13th minute Llorente, who was being rushed, finished off a pass to the centre by Javi Martínez, who was playing in the midfield area alongside Orbaiz as Gurpegi was on the sideline.
After the 15-minute mark Málaga got into the match and tried to make the most of their turn. First with Mtiliga in the 18th minute, and his excessively long run when facing Iraizoz, who in the 25th minute had let the ball slip away that later was finished off with a high shot at goal by Apoño, who had changed his starting position on the left so as to let Duda remain on the right with Maresca and Camacho in the centre, while Quincy and Rondón looked for spaces ahead.
The Red-White response came by way of Javi Martínez, who preferred to take a shot at goal rather than pass the ball to the centre, and the ball was caught by Asenjo. At the opposite end, Duda faked to the centre, but took a shot at goal trying to take Iraizoz by surprise, but the goalie deflected it to corner.
The encounter had nothing to do with parsimony, as both teams wanted to cause damage, however, with irregular fortune. Even the yellow bookings had kept a certain balance. One for Camacho that was followed by another shown to Iturraspe, with another shot at goal by Javi Martínez in the meantime, although this too was deflected.
Apoño came close to making the most of another clearance, but Iraizoz sent his volley to corner. Seeing the scenario, our most imminent objective of returning to the changing room with no goals scored against us was accomplished.
Now back on the pitch, the same trend as that of the first half was repeated that is with the visitors dominating the game. So much so that Muniain had a great goalscoring opportunity in the 51st minute, but after dribbling at par, his tricky shot at goal was saved by Asenjo with the tip of his fingers. After the 15-minute mark of the second half, our team started to notice the passing of the time, though they did manage to do more harm than in the first half. Following another round of bookings, one for Demichelis and another to San José, his fifth, and now with Recio who had replaced a tired Maresca, the Blue-Whites insisted, not too much, but they did insist. At the 60-minute mark De Marcos stepped in for Iturraspe.
And the match opened up a bit more. Málaga needed the three points to buffer the possible effects of their next set of consecutive away games against FC Barcelona and Valencia CF, whereas for Athletic, who have no classification woes, the best way to forget their slip-up against Deportivo and the Copa eliminatory’s bitter aftertaste was to take home the points at stake.
Muniain was shown another card seconds before being replaced by Gabilondo with still only around twenty minutes to go. Shortly afterwards Rondón had a clear goalscoring opportunity, but luckily his full out header went astray. Once again, this was a sign; the person in charge of the response was Javi Martínez, whose great shot at goal with the left was deviated after having run several metres with Recio literally hanging off his back. De Marcos also had an opportunity in the 73rd minute, but at the last moment Wellington was able to stick his leg in and deflect the ball to corner.
The coin was up in the air. No truce had been declared and the next goalscoring opportunity fell on Apoño’s shoulders, in the 75th minute, but he staggered when trying to finish it off. Llorente’s header in the 78th minute missed after having received De Marcos’s pass to the centre and one could think that our next objective was to return to the showers once more without having any goals scored against us. Nevertheless, Málaga made the most of their umpteenth set move.
It was none other than Duda, who took the corner kick in the 80th minute and Demichelis who headed the ball into the back of the net in spite of Iraizoz having touched the ball and Orbaiz who was unable to clear the ball from under the posts. It was the ideal scenario for a tired team after a week of intense effort and a couple of disappointments to lower their heads and lament their bad luck. Our team, who have a lot of flaws in their collection, but not that of premature resignation fought with tooth and nail up until the very last breath, however, this time they were rewarded.
Almost automatically Igor Martínez stepped in for Orbaiz, sending David López to cover the pivot position. Happily in the last minute a foul was taken by Gabilondo with practically all the Red-White players in the rival area, for example; two players were marking the goalie Iraizoz who had stepped forward to finish it off, nonetheless, it was Javi Martínez who had finished if off by combing the ball just enough to equalize the match and, along the way, convert what could have been disappointment into joy and, also into satisfaction for the consistency demonstrated and to reiterate, also, that our team can defend in a disciplined fashion and with energy, cause harm in set pieces and in the air (twelve goals scored with headers), resulting in the visualization of numbers (points) that invite optimism. Having said this, now it’s time to win for the first time in 2011.
The Málaga CF line up: Asenjo; Gámez, Demichelis, Wellington, Mtiliga; Camacho, Maresca, Apoño; Quincy, Rondón and Duda. On the bench: Arnau, Fernando, Seba F.M. Kris, M. Gaspar, Juanmi and Recio.
The Athletic Club line up: Iraizoz; Iraola, San José, Ekiza, Koikili; David López, Javi Martínez, Orbaiz, Muniain; Iturraspe and Llorente. On the bench: Raúl, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Gurpegi, Ocio, Castillo and Igor Martínez.
Referee: Velasco Carballo.