RCD Espanyol - Athletic Club
Matchday 34

RCD Espanyol - Athletic Club

RCD Espanyol
RCD Espanyol
Athletic Club
Athletic Club
  • 35' Osvaldo
  • 76' Iván L.M.
  • Susaeta 43'

LocationCornellà-El Prat , Cornellà-El Prat

The road to Europe is still ahead

Espanyol 2 Athletic Club 1Athletic Club lost to Espanyol by 2-1. Osvaldo and Iván Alonso…

Athletic Club

Espanyol 2 Athletic Club 1

Athletic Club lost to Espanyol by 2-1. Osvaldo and Iván Alonso scored on behalf of the locals, whereas Susaeta, from a direct kick, scored our team’s only goal. The match was not a good one nor was the date and we’ll have to wait to have our European passport stamped, though much of this responsibility is still in our hands. During the first half the initiative belonged to the Red-Whites, despite the fact that Espanyol got ahead on the scoreboard. In the second, on the other hand, the locals were better and, paradoxically, scored the match winning goal when there was less risk at Iraizoz’s end of the pitch and those who were wearing green yesterday were unable to react.

There are only four matches to go before the end of the League and our objective still depends uniquely and exclusively on us, one point away from the teams is fifth and sixth spot and three ahead of the team in eighth place, with a general goal average in favour. One hour and a half prior to the kick off, the mystery of the week was cleared up… and Athletic stepped onto the field without Llorente. Espanyol, on the contrary, stepped onto to the pitch with their announced starting eleven line up which was exclusively made up of their former junior players. The Greens came on strong, aware of the importance of not being dominated by the rival and being better in the midfield area. Nevertheless, the first goalscoring opportunity was for the locals when Osvaldo made the most of his position, took off and was then face to face with Iraizoz, who was able to repel the ball in the 13th minute.

As a result of this Espanyol took charge and Iraizoz had to deflect Márquez’s great shot at goal to corner. As expected, Espanyol’s main trump card was to get behind our team’s defence. In an attempt to stop them finding gaps between the defenders and the midfield area, something that was made the most of in the 1st leg match, Caparrós had made a small change by sending Gurpegi a bit further behind than usual, leaving Iturraspe alone behind Toquero.

The equilibrium was restored and so too the goalscoring opportunities of both squads. The first ones for Athletic, came about when the locals almost scored their own goal and later with a long distance shot at goal by Castillo, that was treacherous, but Kameni was able to get hold of the ball. At the 30-minute mark, nothing forbade that the host team would get ahead on the scoreboard, but they did. A couple of failed clearances, and the ball that was sent to the centre of the area touching Márquez, and Osvaldo, who was in an offside position, scored with his left, after having struck the post, 1-0.

Athletic Club tried to react and the fruit of their efforts paid off in the 43rd minute when Susaeta masterfully converted a foul into goal. The shot at goal had beaten the human barrier making Kameni stretch in vain. There was little time left until halftime, but things started to warm up as the referee did not award a penalty to Espanyol when Iraizoz brought Iván Alonso to the ground when both were running after the ball that had brushed past Ekiza’s head. The referee did not see it this way, nor did he consider Osvaldo to be offside during the evening’s first goal.

The second half got underway with Llorente on the field instead of Iturraspe and with the local supporters prepared to apply the pressure on the ref at the slightest. The truth is that we cannot know the state of the referee’s whistle during the second half, but it is evident that he blew more in favour of the home team than us.

With their home-grown players and a different attitude Espanyol stepped onto the field believing in themselves much more, though they did come up against Iraizoz who was not feeling overly guilty for the incident that happened prior to the break and, after repelling a treacherous centre with his fists, a goal scoring opportunity cropped up for Athletic with a Gurpegi header that was caught by Kameni and then the second substitution took place; Orbaiz was sent in to replace Toquero and Susaeta went on to become the second forward. Despite all of this the locals had the initiative and Iraizoz had to intervene fiercely against Amat in the 61st, when he took his shot at goal from within the small goal area whilst completely alone. Afterwards, he sent Osvaldo’s great left shot at goal to corner. During this time Ustaritz replaced Muniain who had a cold and Athletic played with three centres, something that’s not very usual.

Then there was peace at the visitors’ end of the pitch, although on the contrary it was a bit more difficult to reach the other end. As the minutes ticked by everyone could see, practically by inertia that a draw would keep us in a privileged position with one match less to be played until the end of the season.

Pochettino made a double substitution with only a quarter of an hour left to go and, without time to put them to the test Rui Fonte and Isaías took over from Márquez and Luis García, and then Iván Alonso sealed the match. Osvaldo got hold of a loose ball in the area, passed it to the centre from the right, and then the ball went in a parallel direction to the goal line until it got to Alonso who pushed the ball into the back of the net from up close.

In the last fifteen minutes Martínez became the second forward and Iraola the right winger, but it was Gurpegi who looked the most dangerous. First with a blow with his shoe from outside the area that Kameni just managed to send to corner, and then when the local goalie stepped forward with a great slightly deflected header that Castillo was not able to finish off at the second post.

All the efforts were in vain despite the team having maintained the flames of pride that characterizes them alive, but without ideas and sufficient energy. If our weaknesses were not enough the referee bombarded us with fouls during the second half, with special “predilection” when it comes to confirming that Llorente has all the chances of ending the League as the player who commits the highest number of fouls.

Despite all the negative aspects, our team still depends on themselves to achieve our set goal, which is to play in the Europa League next season, for this we must end up in fifth, sixth or seventh spot at the end of the competition. It’s logical to feel downhearted after a loss, but it’s not logical to change the team’s objective every week, with the added risk of losing what has been achieved so far, this loss can be interpreted as a disappointment but there’s still hope. And to put our remaining strength to a test, on Saturday we’re up against Levante at San Mamés.