Athletic Club 2 Real Sociedad 1Athletic Club defeated Real Sociedad by 2-1, the goals being…
Athletic Club 2 Real Sociedad 1
Athletic Club defeated Real Sociedad by 2-1, the goals being scored by Muniain, Toquero and Javi Martínez, on behalf of the visitors. Thanks to this triumph in this second derby in a week, the team are still in fifth spot with only five matches left. It was a fought out affair, honouring the almost ritual association of fratricidal duels, emotion and intensity in these types of matches. In today’s our team scored all the goals, with a good start and suffering in the end, more because of the small lead on the scoreboard than the pressure applied, but well celebrated after the final whistle blow. Concerning our next appointment, San José will not be able to play in it as he was shown his fifth yellow card.
Just as it was expected, because of the characteristics of this rivalry duel and what the two teams, each to their own, had at stake, i.e., the UEFA league for us and for them to remain in first division, the encounter had enough doses of tension, balance and imbalance, and at the end Athletic Club’s desired re-encounter with the recipe that had made us strong at San Mamés, a scenario that at last Martín Lasarte has experienced and that, surely, must have impressed him at least a little.
And the recipe for the recuperation of muscle at home that is already known, but always difficult to put into practice is to: strike first, two times if possible, later add a little or a lot of suffering and finally to enjoy the dessert. And that’s how it was today, at an increasingly crucial moment of the season as there is no room for mistakes.
The first five to ten minutes were a kind of mirage, seeing that it was Real who had taken the initiative with an eleven starting line up similar to the one who defeated us during the first half of the season, however, this time round our goalie was the debutant Raúl, who did a great job, except when he anticipated Estrada’s header that aroused some doubt.
The local difficulties to come lessened as the minutes ticked by. And the Athletic machine was revving up as seen with a San José header that went high, and the first incursions made down the left on behalf of Muniain, who in the end was not suspended. The speed and pace increased for good and soon the fruit was ripe for picking.
A similar harvest was also obtained in the Club’s offices, with even the collaboration of the media when it came to getting images that demonstrate, or at least made some members of the committees doubt, the absurdity of the booking Muniain received when celebrating a goal and even more so if the decision makers had seen the TV over the week. After the planting in the offices and harvesting on the pitch, Muniain made the most of the set moves: David López took a good shot at goal that was deflected to corner by Bravo; David once more kicked to the centre of the area where Llorente was waiting to finish it off, Bravo repelled it in short and there was Muniain to score his fifth goal in the current League competition, beating last season’s record of four.
The Donostian coach had spoken about the change in strategy when it came to trying to hamper Llorente as they had done in the first leg match, an unmistakable sign that they would try to do it again, but this time it didn’t work, given that the forward and Athletic worked the set pieces better at least until they got in the lead. The first goal was scored in the 18th minute and the Red-Whites and their fans did not wane in their intensity. Toquero had a go on the half turn and though a defender repelled his shot, he kept at it until, in the 28th minute, when he scored with a crossed line shot after having received Llorente’s perfect drop kick.
Nevertheless, happiness never lasts forever and one minute later, when Real were suffering the most and there was a risk that the rest of the match would be indifferent, a pass to the centre by Zurutuza found the back of Raúl’s net like a missile when Javi Martínez tried to clear the ball. Our team is like that, for the good and the not so good, a team can get back into a match with only ten players when they’re suffering the most, and with Javi’s own goal, in the stands it seemed at times, that the 2-1 outcome belonged to the visiting team.
Leaving nothing to want, whoever wants to appeal to the action replay of Muniain’s supposed penalty against Xabi Prieto, the result is that if physical contact had existed this had not occurred inside the area. And while Real were prowling in the area, in the 36th minute Toquero’s tenacity allowed him to steal the ball from Bravo, but his shot at goal to an empty goalmouth had little angle and went out. A bit later Raúl demonstrated that the work done in the shadow is not a synonym of a lack of experience when it came to repelling a shot at goal following his one to one against Griezmann in the 40th but then Llorente was over-confident when he tried to finish off a centre pass by kicking over Bravo’s head when Bravo had not stepped forward.
With their swords in the air the second half got underway. Soon afterwards De Marcos stepped in for Iraola, who was suffering from muscular discomfort and taken off as a precautionary measure, whereas in the 58th minute Tamudo took over from Ifrán, who during the week had reminded us of how privileged we are for not having derbies in which problems are resolved by stone-throwing. The match was being played with the utmost lack of definition, which is another way of saying that it had a lot of emotion but little game, but it was the neediest team in the league ladder and on the scoreboard that needed to go forward and take more risks. Or at least that would be the most logical.
The goal-scoring opportunities were few and far between, Demidov connected the ball with his right following the corner taken in the 70th minute but he missed, and Prieto’s shot at goal in the 76th was repelled by the goalie Raúl, meanwhile the Red-Whites had a go with Javi Martínez’s volley from David López’s foul shot but Bravo repelled this and then Susaeta slipped over in front of Bravo, at the most inappropriate time, and these were the most prominent opportunities.
The match went on with fierce faces in every square metre and the bookings started to accumulate. Orbaiz was shown his prior to being replaced by Gurpegi and, among others; San José was booked which means he won’t be in the line up on Monday, 2 May in Cornellá. On the rival bench, besides moving Prieto around a couple of times, Sutil was sent in to replace Zurutuza and Griezmann became the offensive midfielder with these substitutions being the most noteworthy.
Drive on behalf of the visitors and a tidy defence on behalf of the hosts, a period that also bore witness to an injured Llorente who had to leave the field in the 79th minute, and with Athletic having already taken their European calculator out, in what we hope will be a constant feature in the remaining five League match day rounds. Now for the next match against Espanyol and let’s see if we can add another three valuable points to the kitty.
The Athletic Club line up: Raúl; Iraola, San José, Ekiza, Amorebieta; David López, Javi Martínez, Orbaiz, Muniain; Llorente and Toquero. On the bench: Aitor, Koikili, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Susaeta, Gurpegi and Urko Vera. Ibai and Ruiz de Galarreta were not called up.
The Real Sociedad line up: Bravo; C. Martinez, Ansotegi, Demidov, D Estrada; Rivas, Aranburu; X. Prieto, Zurutuza, Griezmann; and Ifran. On the bench: Zubikarai; Mikel Gonzalez, Elustondo, Markel, Labaka, Tamudo and Sutil.
Referee: Fernández Borbalán.