Rayo Vallecano 2 – Athletic Club 3 Athletic Club won 2-3 against Rayo Vallecano. An…
Rayo Vallecano 2 – Athletic Club 3
Athletic Club won 2-3 against Rayo Vallecano. An important win to stay high up the league table in a match, which as expected, was unorthodox with a lot of contact . Fernando Llorente with a hat-trick, the first of his league career, was the main protagonist. And now, yes, the Copa awaits on Tuesday in Anduva, a clash that, in some respects, will not differ much from today’s game.
As expected, the match was not going to be the ideal scenario to see a match with continuous initiative in the game, but rather a duel in which strategic plays were going to play a preponderant role, and that is what happened. Goals, chances, tough battles for every ball and excitement on the pitch and in the stands with thousands of fans on both sides, with everyone doing their own thing and what was to happen on the pitch was another matter.
And from theory to practice. In the 10th minute, the home striker, Michu, made clear the importance of strategy plays when he headed in an extension from a corner. Not in vain was every free kick near the box or corner kick cheered furiously by the crowd. By this stage of the game Iñigo Pérez had already been shown the first yellow card, although the criteria for showing them was very disparate. Rayo were in their stride, the visitors quite uncomfortable. However, in the small Vallecas there was still a lot to see and to happen.
From the start, an eye for an eye and from the strategy, Athletic regained their composure. Iñigo Pérez’s free kick from the halfway line and Llorente’s header into the net. Casado earned himself a card after a short time and Athletic were in a better position. And a little better still when, in the 24th minute, a pass into the box was brought down well by Llorente, who turned the ball home to make it 1-2.
And it was back to business as usual, because just as after the 1-0, the team that had been trailing came out of the woodwork. In fact, with no time to settle and manage the advantage, and with Tamudo missing, injured in the arm after an earlier shot intercepted by Iraizoz and replaced by Rayco, the Vallecano team reacted very quickly. A shot that Gorka was unable to send wide was pushed unchallenged into the net by centre-back Arribas and it was back to square one.
From then until half-time Rayo Vallecano were clearly dominant. Movilla’s shot was well saved by Iraizoz in the 33rd minute, Tito shot narrowly wide in the 36th minute and in the 43rd minute Michu had a clear chance to score after stealing the ball from Iraizoz’s feet, although the goalkeeper made up for his earlier mistake by quickly recovering the ball from the striker’s feet.
In the second half, with no changes at the start, things were not so easy for the home side and Athletic were able to manage the game better, without lowering their effectiveness rates and taking advantage of the home side’s attrition, as the game was not without a high tempo. Another injury on Sandoval’s side, in this case to goalkeeper Dani in a move in which Susaeta came close to scoring, allowed Cobeño to come on. In his first intervention he saved a header from Llorente, although he was not as fortunate a few minutes later.
Muniain replaced Susaeta and, as noted, Rayo had to wait for their first chance on goal, which came in the 65th minute from a ball that Iraizoz was unable to block and which Michu failed to direct towards goal to make a back pass that Trashorras sent high.
A couple of minutes later, finally in La Liga, Llorente repeated the three goals in the same game that he scored several seasons ago against Lanzarote in the Copa. Toquero, today’s starter, played as an assistant and Llorente headed the ball home to make Cobeño’s effort useless, who even touched the ball. Along with the aforementioned Toquero, Iñigo Pérez and David López were in the starting line-up from the opening whistle, and the latter tried his luck from distance, while Llorente – eleven goals in La Liga – came close to scoring his fourth in a palpable manner when he headed against the crossbar from a corner.
Sandoval brought on Delibasic for Piti, and although our team has lived without too much trouble, doing so at Vallecas is practically impossible. The third home change prompted Bielsa to bring on three centre-backs with Ekiza replacing Iñigo Pérez. In their final push, with Herrera in place of Toquero, the Vallecano side managed a shot wide from Rayco, a weak shot from Michu saved by Iraizoz and the most difficult moment came in the 86th minute with another ball that Gorka Iraizoz was unable to hold after a low shot from Trashorras.
Athletic is now garnering some lost points back in the early phase of the second round of La Liga. Our team has some weaknesses, but in general they are showing character and personality. Now it is time to think about the Copa. Mirandés will be waiting for us.