Athletic Club 2 Real Racing Club 1Athletic Club beat Racing by 2-1, the goals being…
Athletic Club 2 Real Racing Club 1
Athletic Club beat Racing by 2-1, the goals being scored by Javi Martínez and Muniain in the first half. Iván Bolado scored on behalf of the visiting squad in the second half. Good news to end the first half of the season: the new pitch bore the brunt perfectly, three more points have been achieved (29 compared to 30 in the same match day round of the 09/10 season) and, although there are still 57 points at stake, just before the start of the second half of the season, the team can look up towards the top spots.
With regards to today’s encounter, just as on other occasions, one can talk about two halves differentiated by what could be seen and what was on offer. A praiseworthy first half and a weak second half, influenced by the injuries of both Llorente and Ocio.
At the beginning Racing applied the pressure up front, but just like what happened at the start of the season, Athletic Club managed to put the match on the right track swiftly. In fact, just after the 6-minute mark, Javi Martínez scored the first goal with a header after having intercepted David López’s foul kick to the centre. Demonstrating along the way that what happened in Malaga was no fluke.
If scoring a goal so early was a pleasure, things did not stop here. Immediately afterwards Toquero planted himself in front of Toño, but his position on the field was declared as being inadmissible by the referee whereas the spectators muttered their doubts, which dissipated three minutes later when the second goal was scored by Muniain from a pass by Toquero following a nice criss-cross play. The passing and sharpness of such passes were electric and this was an undeniable result of having a new pitch, in particular when it came to circulating the ball that in turn allowed for smoother ball control.
Muniain’s first goal in the League this season was followed by Munitis’s first booking. The player deserved to get another before the end of the match, but later had to the leave the field after being shown a red card during injury time.
With everything seemingly lost, the visitors tried to react, despite the fact that the next set of goalscoring opportunities were also red and white, by way of a Llorente header following David López’s pass to the centre, then Gurpegi whose last pass could not find anyone to finish it off and after that Toquero with a header that was caught by Toño. The gaps were opened easily and the defence led by the “debutante” duo of Ocio-Ekiza responded well.
Nevertheless, at around the 30-minute mark the Cantabrian team showed signs of life. First with a deep pass that was made the most of by Munitis in order to dribble around Iraizoz, but his shot at goal went high. Even scarier was Kennedy who took a shot at goal from a distance, however, the ball struck the crossbar and, then their third opportunity came about with a shot at goal by Rosenberg that was repelled by Iraizoz. In the 34th minute Munitis deserved to get his second yellow card after blocking a counterattack move with his hand, especially if we compare this to the yellow card shown to San José a week ago.
The fright caused by our rival’s attempts at goal was a fleeting sensation, because in the 36th minute David López smashed the ball into the goalpost after having taken the foul. The bad thing about the infraction was that Llorente was on the receiving end of a heavy blow to the neck and up until the break was a lost soul, and the mere shadow of a striker. After the break Igor Martínez stepped in for him.
In the second half Athletic came onto the field in a bossy fashion, and just like what had happened to their rival in the first half, their dominion in the first minutes was a mirage, as the visitors were applying more pressure than they had at the start of the first half. Rosenberg provoked a comer just before Ocio had to withdraw from the field of play as he could not put up with the pain caused by a heavy blow to the instep of his left foot. Ustaritz took his spot in the 55th minute.
Portugal moved his next counter and sent Iván Bolado in to replace Adrián and also sent Munitis to the left wing. Nonetheless, the subsequent goalscoring opportunity was for Gurpegi who took a shot at goal with a header in the 64th minute, followed by a quick response by Rosenberg in the 65th minute; however, Iraizoz stepped out and ruined it all. At times a certain doses of over-confidence could be perceived, accentuated by the perception in the stands, the spectators who are always ready to foresee unfortunate events, such as cards for our players and goals for the visitors. The newcomer to the field finished off with a header in the 71st minute but it was sent to corner, however, two minutes later he didn’t miss when finishing off a foul with all the freedom imaginable in doing so.
Though this was negative, at least it made our players get their act together and they kept their rival at bay, recuperating the initiative, and more importantly setting the pace of the match and rising above the circumstances. All of which was done despite foreseeing a larger doses of suffering with Ariel who had replaced Pinillos, and the rather deviated shot at goal by Henrique in the 88th minute.
Susaeta stepped in for Toquero in the 79th minute with the aim of retaining the ball more as the average height of team got lower and that’s how the minutes ticked on until injury time when Javi Martínez got a clear yellow booking and almost immediately after Munitis was sent off for elbowing. Five minutes to celebrate another three points, of having recovered a pitch that transmits sensations of having made it back on the home winning track. Now, it’s time to think about Hércules and let’s hope that the remaining eight days will be enough for us to heal our wounds and to start the second half of the season just at the first half ended, triumphantly and with our sights set high.
The Athletic Club line up: Iraizoz; Iraola, Ocio, Ekiza, Koikili; David López, Gurpegi, Javi Martínez, Muniain; Toquero and Llorente. On the bench: Raúl; Ustaritz, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Susaeta, Orbaiz and Igor Martinez.
The Real Racing Club line up: Toño; Pinillos, Torrejón, Henrique, D. Cisma; Kennedy, Colsa, Lacen, Adrián; Munitis and Rosenberg. On the bench: Mario, Christian, Osmar, I. Bolado, Francis P., Ariel and Ramón.
Referee: Ramírez Domínguez.