Osasuna 1 Athletic Club 2Athletic Club beat Osasuna by 1-2. Llorente and Muniain were the…
Osasuna 1 Athletic Club 2
Athletic Club beat Osasuna by 1-2. Llorente and Muniain were the goalscorers, whereas Sola scored the first goal of the match. A top-class triumph of faith in one’s own strengths during the most difficult part of the match, seeing that our team had to play almost the entire second half with one player less. Athletic Club are fifth at the end of the round and there are only six match day rounds left to go and on Saturday, at San Mamés, the second derby in a row, that we hope will have an identical and favourable outcome. For said encounter, except if some of our appeals are accepted, Iraizoz, Castillo, Iturraspe and Muniain won’t be able to play for disciplinary reasons.
The start of the clash could have made a grown man cry. The media victim of the week, Carlos Gurpegi, raised doubts as to why, according to their way of seeing things, Osasuna doesn’t have more players from Navarre in their ranks, something on the contrary that cannot be established by law, just like the quota of Biscayans at Athletic or Gipuzkoans at Real, to name a few. It was the last question of the press conference given by Osasuna and its members. Based on the reactions raised and magnified, it’s not strange that footballers and/or coaches end up turning to the even more typical cliché, or to self-censorship.
Anyway, there was not much time left before they would attempt to mock him at the Reyno stadium, seeing that in a minute and a bit into the game there was a tremendous crash between Carlos and Monreal’s head and in the fifth minute he had to leave the field. He even had to be taken to hospital where he was given first seven stitches and then later another five, but he was able to return to the field to enjoy the victory. The truth is that he did not miss much while he was in the medical centre, at least in the first half.
David López stepped in for him; however, it was difficult for our team to concentrate. In fact, the first ten minutes were a local monologue, until Sergio was shown his first card of the evening, something that lessened Osasuna’s eagerness. Both teams started to pile up enormous quantities of mistakes and the derby was miserably even.
Osasuna wanted to steal the ball in the dangerous zones and counter-attack quickly, meanwhile those that were wearing the blue-white uniform, seemingly for the last time in an official match, tried to pester Ricardo. Only Ekiza’s foul shot that was combed by Llorente and caught by the goalkeeper stood out. But the locals had their chances too for example with Camuñas’s shot at goal went high in the 22nd minute and another line shot at goal by Pandiani, caught by Iraizoz, in the 25th. With regards to the controversial plays, Kike Sola cried out that he was not offside when face to face with Iraizoz, just like Llorente in the second half when he planted himself in front of Ricardo. Both seemed to have been right.
Prior to the break, the only thing worth mentioning was Castillo’s first booking, that would take on special importance in the second half. A period in which Athletic seemed to be more prepared for on the field of play, nonetheless, misfortune likes company, and this season’s cycle made a reappearance, again in a negative way. Ekiza made his debut as far as yellow bookings are concerned and, as a result of the foul kick to follow, our players did not coordinate well when clearing and Sola, on the half turn and in the 51st minute, made things uphill for us by scoring a goal, 1-0.
And to put Athletic’s capability to handle the situation to a test, even when things look as though they could get worse, our team tried to react, as shown by Castillo’s pass to the centre but there was no one around to finish it off and then he was sent off after having been shown his second yellow card, an appealable action as it’s not clear that he had hung on to Nelsen’s shirt.
This happened only moments prior to Susaeta being substituted by Orbaiz, but the final aim of the substitution, in terms of tactics, did not last long as could be seen. The Reds and what can you say about their fans, grew in stature. Ekiza almost scored his very own goal when trying to clear the ball but fortunately the ball hit the rival goalpost instead and a bout of “oles” could be heard along with inaccurate statements, though less frequent than before, except on two or three occasions, “they’re not from Lezama, they’re from Tajonar”, when Osasuna only had four players from their reserves in their line up as well as nine with the Athletic label. We were expecting the worse.
The heart asked for more risk in an attempt to reach a draw at least, but the head advised the team to restore the balance. That’s why San José stepped in for Toquero. Amorebieta, the main novelty in the starting line up, was sent to the left wing, Iturraspe back, while Susaeta, David López and Muniain were positioned between the pivot and the centre forward. The easy way would have been to position more players in the offensive line, and while Mendilibar sent Soriano in to replace Cejudo, the entrance of a new centre by Athletic allowed the team to consolidate and from then on things started to change. For the locals this was their worst period despite being superior in number.
On the other hand, Athletic, limited in number and, yesterday, in creativity, gave the impression of having improved. It’s not that they had created an infinity of goal-scoring opportunities, but just enough, about the same as the rival team. And particularly when it came to getting the ball into play from behind, with no risks, and this allowed the team to equalize the encounter in the 70th minute. San José took off with the ball that looked as it had been tied to his foot, he then passed it to Iturraspe, who after performing a complicated manoeuvre passed it down the wing to David López, whose shot to the centre was finished off by Llorente with a great header that found the back of the net, putting an end, to date, to the rumours that Fernando was going through a bad patch.
Osasuna played with a great amount of tranquillity and tried, especially via Nelson down the right wing, but they came up against an organized squad, who were determined and knew what was at stake. Coro stepped in for Pandiani and, later, Leka for Camuñas and these were their two desperate attempts to dissolve the equalizer, but as shown, accumulating the number of players in the attack department is not a synonym of effectiveness. Now towards the end, the ref had no choice but to send Sergio off, not for his leap with Llorente, but a couple of minutes prior to the end for bring Susaeta to the ground.
A lively finish, which was going to be even livelier with the sending off of the local centre. Logic said the match would end up in a draw and Athletic, and their two faces, are not synonyms. Another thing, Athletic demonstrated that throwing in the towel is not their style, but that fighting it out in almost extreme conditions is as well as not resigning oneself to that way of thinking that talks about fiascos every time the rivals are superior in numbers. The second goes hand in hand with the first, or at least helps, seeing that faith in one’s own abilities is essential, in all the matches with or without a favourable outcome. Likewise knowing just what it takes to transform encounters that are unsuitable for all ages into matches that are talked about that in the end allow us to climb up the league ladder is another plus. In its day the Levante match (1-2) was the example of this and in today’s match there is little difference, except that on that occasion the victory was based on statistics, and today’s was not.
A draw was not a bad compensation, after we would still have been in fifth spot, though with a smaller margin. But, in the 90th minute, with the same number of players on the field, Muniain, public enemy number 1 (as Gurpegi had to go to hospital), showed up, he went after a ball that David López had kicked to an open gap, he scored a goal worth its weight in gold in cold blood and what’s more with the goalmouth being empty, though it’s true that the misunderstanding between Nelson and Ricardo did help. To talk about revenge is not fair, because it’s not Muniain’s fault that the masses are distracted by external enemies when they have other major problems.
He had focussed on the game, however upon celebrating the goal, he raised his hand to his outer ear briefly and this was enough for him to get a booking which gave rise to a sanction. A curious decision after having received insults throughout the entire match, before, during and after scoring the goal and even more curious if we compare this with well known images of the stars that ask the spectators in the stands to shout against their rival players, or tell them to shut up or use them as a makeshift firing range.
Finally, just as it had occurred in the 1st leg match against Osasuna, a late goal gave Athletic another chance to fight it out for the European qualifications spots, something that must be endorsed on Saturday against Real at San Mamés. It’s sure our team will do this with the same values that make them dangerous right until the end and that they will also make attempts to make the game easier and stand out for its effectiveness.