Athletic Club 2 – Sevilla 0Athletic Club defeated Sevilla by 2-0, Fazio having scored his…
Athletic Club 2 – Sevilla 0
Athletic Club defeated Sevilla by 2-0, Fazio having scored his own goal and the second was scored by Iraola as a result of a penalty, both during the second half. After this triumph the team is in fifth position and also has the goal difference with regards to the Andalusian squad in its favour, in spite of this there are still eleven days to go until the end of the League and the battle will be intense to the very end. The match was an even affair, full of setbacks, tough in the best sense of the word and the most negative aspect for our team, was Toquero who was injured, seeing that Iraola’s injury a priori does not seem to be so serious in light of next Monday’s match in Getafe. Three points just when they were needed and against the ideal rival to close the doors on this recent negative phase.
The Red-Whites were better in the first half, and had clearer goalscoring opportunities than the rivals, who had them at the start of the second and after the 1-0 score, although once in the lead, this time, Athletic knew how to read the encounter with a cool head and sufficient defensive rigour.
Sevilla FC presented a strong team and of great importance. All the rivals come to San Mamés saying that Athletic does not only play an aerial game, but just in case one must be prepared, or at least try, in the best possible way. Conclusion, each foul or corner taken was fought tooth and nail. However, from the very first moment it was hard for them to stop Llorente and, although they spared no expense, many times during the match the public reproached the fact that it took a lot for the whistle to be blown in favour of the player in question, and against a player, who is on the maximum offenders’ list. Well, that’s how football is, you know.
Following an in tune start, in the 4th minute and as a result of a good counterattack play, a centre kicked by Toquero was finished off by Llorente with a header giving Varas an opportunity to show off by sending the ball to corner. In the 8th minute, the involuntary hostilities got underway when Negredo and Iraola bumped their heads against each other when trying to intercept Navas’s centre. The two ended up bloody and, as an exception that did not correspond with the outcome of the encounter, the player from Sevilla won in terms of stitches, nine against the Red-White player’s seven.
What’s more, due to the location of the wound and the fact that the bandage to his head would not last long, Negredo was replaced much to his annoyance. Kanouté took his spot in the 15th minute and, despite the fact that there will be reports for every taste, the substitution was not all that bad for Sevilla. Perhaps they lost some punch, something debatable because Kanouté reaches all the balls, but by not applying the pressure up front they won in teamwork in the midfield area with the presence of Kanouté somewhat more to the rear.
Athletic bore the brunt of the match, but Sevilla joined their lines well and therefore the strategy seemed decisive, although in the end it was not so decisive. A Javi Martínez header in the 22nd was caught by Varas and soon afterwards the referee showed his first card to Fernando Navarro, although two or three other candidates for this award had put their names down much earlier.
Sevilla, specialists in leaving players “behind” up front in order to shine in their counterattack moves, did not reach the goal area with sharpness and it was Rakitic, who took two shots from outside the area but that did not find their mark, was the player in charge of creating danger, just like Navas did shortly after and with the same luck. The game was opening as time went by, nevertheless what drove the spectators at San Mamés crazy were the continuous fouls that went unpunished against Llorente, one of the players who has the highest number of fouls committed against him. The say that football is like this.
It is not strange that the first of the whistle blows to his favour was met with a mild round of applause, and the foul was finished off by Llorente himself with a header, that just missed. With the uncertainty in light of the second half along with the yellow card shown to Gurpegi, it was now halftime.
The return to the field from the changing rooms was to make one cry. No sooner had the second half got underway when Toquero was injured and De Marco had to take his place, but this time as a forward. As if this were not enough, Sevilla had three clear goalscoring opportunities in the space of ten minutes. A Kanouté header from the penalty spot that went out, a pass to the centre by Navas; a high header taken by Escudé in the 53rd and a good shot at goal by Kanouté in the 56th, but fortunately his shot at goal with the right was off mark when it had a lot to going for it.
Escudé joined the yellow card club after bringing down De Marcos, who then provoked a penalty, and our team took a step forward to go on and move around the rival field a bit more. Just before the 60-minute mark David López from outside the area made Varas stretch, five minutes later Muniain had a go with a diffident shot at goal and with the same result, but in the 66th our luck that had been missing in so many matches came about by way of a goal. A ball was stolen from Navas by Muniain using his body and it reached Gurpegi, who passed it on down the left flank and Koikili, who had gotten there kicked the ball to the centre of the area, where a defender let the ball go past, but the swiftness of the move surprised Fazio, who could not stop the ball from rebounding off his leg and finding the back of the net.
San Mamés had calmed down, as so too did the team, because four consecutive defeats always sows the seeds of doubt. In fact De Marcos, with his left, could have increased the lead in the 67th after a good play started by Iraola, but his weak shot at goal went straight to the hands of Varas.
More adversities, but this time for Sevilla, with the injury of Luis Fabiano in the 69th. Capel substituted him and Perotti was sent to the midfield. Manzano’s men had not given up on the match, because at San Mamés both teams had a lot at stake and it was Rakitic once again who was in charge of the hostilities with a long distance shot at goal in the 72nd minute. Nonetheless, the real danger man was Kanouté by means of a header that was well repelled by Iraizoz, who in the 77th made the most of his positioning and his body to stop Kanouté from scoring on the half turn.
Ten minutes to go. The countdown had begun and our team was not prepared to let all the hard work and so important treasure go astray. Something must be learnt from last week’s match against Valencia. Orbaiz stepped in for David López and Gurpegi was sent to the right, while on behalf of Sevilla Romaric replaced Medel providing them with more muscle and magnitude.
Seven minutes still to go until the end of the match and Gabilondo took over from Muniain when Sevilla and Navas were charging, however, the Red-Whites shook off the pressure and even scored the tranquillising second goal. The already mentioned score allows our team to have the goal difference in its favour in the standings, for the time being at least, over their two closest rivals. Five minutes to go and Athletic spent most of the time near Varas’s goalmouth. Escudé became an obstacle between Gurpegi’s volley and the back of the net, but he was unable to avoid, when time was almost up, committing a penalty against De Marcos.
The maximum punishment, just as innocent as it was obvious, was taken, and scored, by Andoni Iraola. His twentieth penalty kick for Athletic Club, with fourteen scored, and twelve in an official competition. It was a deserving reward for his sacrifice and all his personal commitment, after playing with seven stitches in his head and after just having recovered from the flu, which included having a fever.
Commitment and dedication virtues obviously extendable to all the Red-White players that have allowed us to overcome such a negative phase and open the doors to a more positive one, that we hope will last way into the future, because as there is so little time left till the end, one of the many virtues of the teams who want to occupy the European placings is none other than consistency. In the meantime, the distance between our closest rivals is still slight, but at least the outlook is better than the one we had less than a week ago. Let’s see if in Getafe things are seen in the same light.
The Athletic Club line up: Iraizoz, Iraola, Ekiza, San José, Koikili, David López, Javi Martínez, Gurpegi, Muniain, Toquero and Llorente. On the bench: Raúl, Amorebieta, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Susaeta, Orbaiz and Ocio.
The Sevilla FC line up: Javi Varas; Caceres, Fazio, Escudé, F. Navarro; J. Navas, Medel, Rakitic, Perotti; Negredo and Luis Fabiano. On the bench: Palop; Romaric, Renato, Kanouté, D. Capel, Dabo and Alexis. Alfaro was not called up.
Referee: Álvarez Izquierdo.