Athletic Club 3-RCD Espanyol 3 Athletic Club is relegated to being satisfied with a 3-3…
Athletic Club 3-RCD Espanyol 3
Athletic Club is relegated to being satisfied with a 3-3 tie against RCD Espanyol. The goals that were scored by De Marcos, Llorente and Javi Martínez were equalled to those by Romaric, Weiss and Albin (in overtime). In a match replete with brilliant action and opportunities to goal, the unfortunate outcome resulted in a bitter tie in the last breath of the match. This was the fourth time in which Athletic lost the points in the final minutes of an encounter. Yes, mathematics is simple: four multiplied by two equals eight. However, it is more important to display ambition and determination with consistent attack than to hold back and assume the defensive position. What is more, independent of the result, is that we all know that better outcomes are on the horizon for our club. Simply put, Athletic performed admirably today, and should ignore the sour taste in their mouth at this juncture. It would be far more productive to concentrate on their next objective: the final assault to arrive at the final of Copa.
Although freezing temps set in, fans were immune to the inclement weather, and the Leones were not about to disappoint them. The players accelerated their game play with a ferocious velocity that didn’t leave their disciples out in the cold. However, nor did Espanyol remain in the defensive line, and this helped to provide for an entertaining encounter in San Mamés. It is these types of encounters that impart all of the ingredients to make the sport rise to greatness. In the 5th minute, the crowd commenced celebration of the first goal, but the ref claimed it invalid and the fans demanded an explanation. Not long after, Llorente’s header was made null and void by an Espanyol defence player hanging on to his shirtsleeve, and didn’t catch the penalty (see photograph attached to the article).
Espanyol’s first attempt to goal came from Romaric, but by that time, Athletic was flooded with chances to score in their own right. De Marcos sent the ball close to the net, but went outside. Muniain also shot with his right foot, but to no avail, either. Next, David López made Espanyol’s goalie work for his keep. Llorente’s excellent movement on the field purveyed a corner kick for Athletic. After said kick, Javi Martínez’s shot was expelled by Espanyol’s defence. Only 20 minutes of the game had been played, and things were looking up for the Leones of San Mamés.
San José’s header was blocked and it was now a fifth corner for Athletic amongst the snow and rain, to add to the mix. Goals weren’t prevalent at this point, but they would render themselves known. In Espanyol’s attack zone, De Marcos grabbed a loose ball, shifted the ball between the legs of his defender, and thrust it into Casillas’ net in the 25th minute.
And there was more to come. A short time later, Héctor Moreno appeared out of nowhere in front of Iraizoz (the shot wasn’t offside to the protest of fans), and Iraizoz cut off the shot. It was a corner kick for Espanyol. In the 32nd minute, Romaric caught a lucky break and scored. Afterwards, Llorente and Muniain attempted to goal, but Casilla obstructed their efforts. Héctor Moreno also scored, but the referee called offside.
After the end of the first half, David López and Iñigo Pérez were substituted by Susaeta and Herrera. Within minutes of entering the field, Espanyol (Weiss) goaled for a second time in the 47th. Weiss struck the ball with such force that Iraizoz found himself incapable of stopping the inevitable. It was a blow to Athletic’s plan, but they didn’t surrender. Iraizoz sent the ball to his comrade, and like Iturraspe, San José and Martínez, they advanced with confidence, and in addition, the buzz in and around the stands never affected any of the players. Fans were nervous, but they shouldn’t have fallen prey to such negativity because our team has proved to be consistent this season.
It only required fifteen minutes for Athletic to play in the same manner as they were in the first half. Susaeta passed a beautiful corner kick, but no result. Susaeta then soft-served a foul to Llorente, and Llorente, with a header in the 58th minute, tied the game. It was his sixth goal of the week. 2-2 and it was wide open for either team for a win. Rui Fonte, with a header, almost scored for the Catalans, but by miracle, Susaeta ejected the ball away from Iraizoz’s net. Coutinho, who was recently recruited by Espanyol, was substituted by Thievy. A corner kick was ejected by Espanyol’s defence line, and Herrera was able to gain control and pass it over to Javi Martínez. Martínez catapulted a rocket header into the net. 3-2.
Doing what they do best…attack. Our team didn’t waste any of their time defending Iraizoz’s net. When Athletic begins defending the net, the outcome is less than palatable. The match’s rhythm didn’t falter in any way, in fact, it was electrifying. Iraola shot the ball and Casilla blocked its path. Albin substituted Fontes, and in the 74th minute, Susaeta almost sentenced the match by scoring, but the ball hit the post…a shame.
Toquero substituted for Llorente (Toquero’s 100th match) and Espanyol attempted to subvert the final result. Although Espanyol’s coach stated in a press conference that his team forced Athletic to defend their territory for 20 minutes, the claim wasn’t accurate. In the 80th minute, Susaeta did not aim for goal, instead he passed the ball over Espanyol’s defence zone. The ball was propelled to the corner. Kalu Uche substituted for Forlín and Athletic saw a chance to score, but unfortunately, De Marcos wasn’t quite on the mark. Javi Martínez and Herrera were yellow-carded, the fifth for Herrera and a subsequent suspension for the next match in Sevilla against Real Betis.
In overtime, three of our players placed pressure upon the rival goalkeeper, who managed to shoot the ball to another team member. Uche received the pass and shifted it over to Albin. Albin, out of nowhere, blasted a shot into Iraizoz’s net. What a jagged little pill to swallow! Athletic continues to lose points, but nevertheless, are making headway towards a brighter future. On Tuesday, Athletic could viably reach the final of Copa. We must make the valiant effort to support our club before the final match. Now, let’s go for the COPA!