Zaragoza 2 Athletic Club 1Athletic Club lost to Zaragoza by 2-1 at La Romareda. Jarosik…
Zaragoza 2 Athletic Club 1
Athletic Club lost to Zaragoza by 2-1 at La Romareda. Jarosik and Uche managed to score the local goals during the second half, whereas Llorente put us in the lead during the first. Including today’s match this is now our fourth defeat in a row and a change in fortune is urgently needed to consolidate our position in the European qualifying spots that we still occupy. Nothing better to do this than by beating a close rival next Sunday, Sevilla.
The Red-Whites had everything in their favour, they played well and got ahead and incomprehensibly, once they had scored the goal they played one of their worst matches of late, especially at the start of the second half. On the contrary, as mentioned, the first couple of minutes were relatively calm. Susaeta could have scored in the 5th minute, but his chip shot struck the post after the ball had gone over Toni D’s head. Soon afterwards, a counterattack move that came about after Orbaiz had stolen the ball ended in a shot at goal taken by the latter with too much angle and only a volley by Boutahar that went astray a quarter of an hour into the game demonstrated that the local team could also be dangerous. The inertia led to the score of 0-1, by Llorente, goal number 15 in the League, in the 18th minute from a good pass by Gabilondo. It was not a header, but taken with the right, but obviously just as good. During the same play Javi Martínez was the victim of a clear penalty by Lanzaro.
Zaragoza were affected by the blow, but only momentarily. A pass behind by Toquero could find no one to finish it off and led to a change of scenery and Athletic had forgotten all the important things they had done up to that moment. The Red-White defence no longer moved the ball about fluidly, and Zaragoza applied the pressure up front and little by little, call it inertia, the locals became more and more confident.
Uche, in the 22nd, entered the area, but his shot at goal was repelled by Iraizoz. The ref, who couldn’t make either side happy when it came to bookings, decided to show his first to Martínez, despite the previous two tackles against Orbaiz in a similar move. However, today we can’t blame external factors for the defeat and this is also not a bad sign.
With the team at the rear, the future Red-White player, as of 1 July, Ander, took a shot at goal that went over the crossbar at the 30-minute mark and although Zaragoza created the most amount of danger in moves made by Bertolo, until the interval their only highlight moment was an elevated header taken by Contini. Reaching the break in the lead makes facing the second half with the lesson well-learnt possible, but it got worse.
The locals did not make any substitutions and our team stuck to the original line up that had included some novelties such as Balenziaga “the debutante” and the presence of Orbaiz, Susaeta and Gabilondo along with Iraola’s comeback. On the field of play more bookings, Gabi, and then Zaragoza’s initial dominance with an early equalizing goal, precisely in the 48th minute in a play in which luck, it must be said, was not on our side. A weak header by Jarosik was going straight towards Iraizoz’s gloves, but it bounced of Ekiza’s legs and ended up loose for the very same Jarosik to scoop it up and finish it off easily.
The response was immediate, when Llorente did an almost repeat performance of last Sunday’s goal scored whilst practically on the ground, but this time it was caught by Dobla, but this was just a spark that died then and there. Athletic wandered about the pitch and Zaragoza, without needing to do anything out of the ordinary, turned the score around in the wink of an eye. Uche’s shot at goal went astray in the 54th, but did find the back of the net in the 55th following the Red-White’s offensive play and subsequent ball loss that was followed by a brilliant counterattack manoeuvre that was finished off by Uche up against Iraizoz. The virtues we knew that Zaragoza had.
The summary of what remained of the match is extremely simple. After such a goal, Agirre’s men were overflowing with joy and far from pinching themselves went on to send the team to the rear and there they found themselves up against an Athletic team without order, one that didn’t use the wings, and kicked too many frontal balls in search of Toquero and Llorente, which put them clearly in a disadvantageous position against the centres and Poncio, who was in charge of throwing the typical Red-White jumper off balance on numerous occasions. Too many people in front of the ball and a rival as tired as they were happy.
The substitutions made were all in vain and the match was left without pace and talking about disappearing even the goalscoring opportunities had vanished into thin air. Apart from the increasingly traditional disappearance of the ball boys, each throw in, goal kick or foul on behalf of the Aragonese was a party and with each foul committed in the rival area, a song of hope for our colours could be heard. We hope that when it’s our turn to row at home that no one at San Mamés will be surprised or identify us with the patent of a medicine that is already generic.
Muniain stepped in for Gabilondo, David López for Susaeta, when there was still twenty minutes left to go, and later Iñigo Pérez replaced Orbaiz. Ponzio, Balenziaga and Jarosik were also shown a yellow card and in the last furlong Sinama was sent in for Uche and Da Silva took Lanzaro’s spot, with still enough time to make another substitution during injury time.
After about half an hour without any serious surprises in the areas, Sinama, with a header, made Iraizoz stretch and following the long peregrination through the desert, comes the denial, Llorente in the 86th minute found himself in a puddle of water. If his shot at goal in the first half was not exactly orthodox, it ended up being a goal, however, on this occasion a rebound in the area resulted in a perfect opportunity for him to kick a volley at point-blank range, but Toni D’s hands and face avoided the equalizer. A point that perhaps Athletic did not deserve for the way they had played, but did deserve for the number of goalscoring opportunities had against a rival, from what can be seen, was more in need than Athletic, and one that was able to take better advantage of the situation. Since there is nothing more that can be done, the tight match schedule is still offering us the option of consolidating our position in the European pack and now is the time to change our luck.