Almería 1 Athletic Club 3Athletic Club defeated UD Almería by 1-3. Muniain, before the break,…
Almería 1 Athletic Club 3
Athletic Club defeated UD Almería by 1-3. Muniain, before the break, and Toquero and Orbaiz in the second half, turning the tables on Piatti’s early goal. Thanks to this victory, our team are holding on tight to the European challenge and are in fifth spot, with the same number of points as Sevilla, who are sixth, with only eight more matches until the end of the League, but as seen match after match, the road is a complicated one and to demonstrate this, next Saturday Real Madrid will be paying us a visit at San Mamés.
It was undeniable that there was much at stake. Almería could see how their chances to stay in this division were fading after every match, and ahead of us were Sevilla and Atlético de Madrid who are fighting hard to make it to the European competition. That’s why the first minutes were destined to be very important. Following a couple of adventures on behalf of those in black and who will soon be wearing the second sporting kit for the first time, the worst of blows came about, Orbaiz passed the ball involuntarily to Piatti, who snuck past the two centres to beat Iraizoz, who had stepped forward, from below.
Only five minutes had gone past, but the captain and the rest of his teammates felt the blow. The fright now over and done with, on the bright side there was still a lot of match left, the goalscoring opportunities started to appear. Not in a hurry, but with an acceptable rhythm, Toquero took a weak shot at goal that went straight to the gloves of Alves, who still was not jeered at by the crowd, and in the 11th minute of play; Gurpegi finished off the ball with a header that just missed from the corner taken by Orbaiz and, in the 19th, Piatti had another go, but in vain, when he tried to surprise Iraizoz with his heel shot at goal. The heat, the humidity, the high pace, the lack of fouls and a certain doses of nervousness and lack of confidence, a shared sensation despite the home ground advantage, were the basic features of this match.
The feeling of unease could also be felt by the spectators in the stands, who did not stop complaining to Mateu Lahoz, whose first match as referee in an Athletic match was exactly at this football field with his performance being similar to today’s, though the outcome then was a (2-1) loss and up until today our team had only won one of the seven League encounters in which he was the referee.
Athletic wanted to equalize the sooner the better, which led to a titanic hand-to-hand affair. Toquero used his body well when mopping up the ball in the 26th, but it was too much for him as his shot at goal sailed over the cross bar despite being in a good position. Llorente also had a go, but he was tackled to the ground in the area without so much as a sanction, however, Orbaiz repeated his style when taking the corner kick so that Gurpegi could once more finish it off, but it was repelled by Alves but then his clearance was finished off by Muniain whose shot at goal taken up close and with the right found the back of the net. This was in the 29th minute and, logically, this was the start of a whole new match.
Almería had everything going for them, but now had to score another goal come what may. In the 32nd Bernardello tried his luck from a distance, but his shot at goal was intercepted by Iraizoz. A bit later Ulloa read Mo’s change in play perfectly, but fortunately his sharpness left a lot to be desired. Javi Martínez was shown his fourth cyclical yellow card and until the halftime break Almería applied the pressure a bit more, however the last goalscoring opportunity of the half was Toquero’s header that went astray.
In light of the second half Iturraspe was told to warm up and during the interval he replaced Javi Martínez. Our team were determined not to do a repeat performance of the first half and it paid off, as by the 60-minute mark they had put the match on the right track. In the 52nd minute to be exact, with a play that started near the centre circle, by the newcomer to the field who then passed the ball to Llorente, who in turn passed it to Muniain, who returned the ball with a deep pass and the forward kicked it down the right for Toquero, who after dodging a defender took the shot at goal with his left and the ball, after striking Alves, found the back of the net.
Oltra immediately sent Kalu Uche in to replace Ortiz, minute 57, making his team adopt a 4-4-2 format, the effectiveness of this format could not be tested, not at least before the 1-3 outcome that sealed the encounter, given that in the 60th minute Orbaiz scored the goal of the round, to say the least, after kicking a tremendous volley from far off that went inside the goalmouth. Athletic had gotten the rival off their back and Orbaiz a considerable burden off his.
Once again the most difficult part seemed to have been achieved, but there was still half an hour of play to go. Ortiz took over from Crusat, however, Athletic’s fourth goal seemed more likely than the hosts’ second. Nevertheless, following Llorente’s weak shot at goal that went straight to Alves, Almería gave it all they had left in an attempt to come up with a heroic act that would keep them from the relegation spots and save them.
Kalu Uche’s header went high in the 70th; Iraizoz deflected Piatti’s shot at goal well, with the clearance kicked by Mo ending up in the clouds; in the 78th Ulloa took a shot at goal on the half turn that was sent to corner by Iraizoz. Then De Marcos stepped in for Llorente, and Corona replaced Carlos García, resulting in Almería going on to have a defence line of three. Our team resisted the siege as reflected in Uche’s shot at goal that was caught by Iraizoz in the 83rd, and a shot at goal that was cleared from under the posts by Ekiza.
To put an end to the duel Amorebieta took over from Muniain in the 86th and Castillo, who made his comeback to the team yesterday, was positioned forward. The final stretch saw how things had gotten back to normal in line with the scoreboard that is and Toquero, on two occasions, the second from a pass by Gurepgi being crystal clear, almost scored a goal, however, Alves and a defender got in the way. Much more was not needed, because it’s not a bad result to have scored three goals for the sixth time in the League and, especially, because at these football fields is where vital points to achieve the European objective are accumulated, though San Mamés must recuperate its bastion calling. Our next rival doesn’t seem, a priori, the most suitable, but next Saturday’s appointment at the Cathedral looks promising.