Club Atlético Osasuna 2-Athletic Club 1 Athletic Club were defeated 2-1 by Club Atlético Osasuna….
Club Atlético Osasuna 2-Athletic Club 1
Athletic Club were defeated 2-1 by Club Atlético Osasuna. Iturraspe, own goal, and Raúl García, both being scored in the first half, on behalf of the locals, whereas Llorente scored for our team during the second. Things went off from the start and that made the task a lot more difficult on a pitch where it’s hard to impose one’s own style and even more the one Athletic Club advocates for.
Osasuna managed the clash better, though our squad did create goal-scoring opportunities in order to equalize and the team came close to doing just this right up until the final whistle blow. The worst, being the two yellow cards shown to both Amorebieta and Toquero, being the fifth for both impeding them from playing against Valencia. However, first things first which is our European encounter to go on to the UEL quarter-finals at stake. Just one more step is needed which we hope will be the definitive one and, between all of us, we’ll try to take it on Thursday at San Mamés which will be jam-packed.
During today’s night-time game, and despite getting off to a hopeful start with De Marcos’s shot at goal that went high, it could soon be seen that it wasn’t going to so easy as Osasuna were determined right from the very start to find oil in each and every one of their strategic moves, a manoeuvre just as legitimate as it is known, that many a time went hand in hand with our own lack of skill and the referee’s erratic decisions, especially when it came to giving out cards,
And to make things even more difficult, in the 9th minute Iturraspe, with a header, introduced the ball between Iraizoz’s goal posts when combining a foul kick taken by Puñal. Osasuna already had their ideal scenario and with room to move didn’t waste any time when it came to trying to make the most of the situation. First with Lamah whose shot at goal was caught by Iraizoz in the 11th and then with García whose shot was deflected in the 12th. The playmaker whose signing on is paid for by Atlético de Madrid was the sharpest of all the rival players, except when looking for a sanction or card on behalf of the rival team, something which is not in keeping with the class he harbours.
Athletic opted for the vertical position, especially down the right wing. At the 15th minute mark, and following a spectacular team effort, De Marcos planted himself in front of Andrés, but his shot at goal smashed into the post. No luck here which would have helped to take control of the encounter on equal terms.
Lamah was the second in the list of cautioned players, seeing that Toquero was shown his fifth yellow card just two minutes into the game, which was an open affair with each centimetre of the pitch disputed. In the 18th minute Iñigo Pérez fired away but the ball struck a defender resulting in a corner, the Red-Whites cried out when Damiá brought Munian down, but this did not seem enough for a penalty to be called; and Toquero’s line shot at goal missed just prior the 30 minute mark.
There was the impression that the pace of the match was waning, but Osasuna did the same as in previous matches which was to punish their rivals with a couple of blows without too much excel. A rigorous foul awarded to Amorebieta ended up with Puñal kicking a centre pass to the area for Raúl García to score a goal with a great header. Athletic reacted quickly: Susaeta with a great left kick in the 32nd minute that went high; Iñigo Pérez had a great opportunity in the 36th, but all alone against Andrés the ball was kicked into the stands. Soon afterwards, Nino finished off a counterattack play with a shot at goal deflected by Gorka and Nekounam’s leftie shot at goal brushed past the post, at the mercy of a rebound, just as it had been on many occasions during today’s match.
Iturraspe was shown another card, just like San José, and still in the first half, with a 2-0 score on the scoreboard, the balls proliferated on the pitch as though they were mushrooms. Prior to the break, Puñal knocked the ball up dangerously this ended up being a corner.
During the interval Llorente and Herrera took over from Aurtenetxe and Iturraspe. Re-alignment of lines with Toquero sent to the midfield area, De Marcos to the left wing and Iñigo Pérez taking Iturraspe’s spot. The first minutes, with all these changes having been made, did not make one cry out in hope, as Osasuna drove their team on with two opportunities one for Lamah and the other for Raúl García both shots being ruined by Iraizoz.
On the contrary, recovering ball possession to a certain extent was enough to produce a well connected play, with a deep pass from Herrera to Llorente, culminating in the latter scoring a goal by lashing out at the goalmouth. A great goal in minute 55 of the game and scoring more goals seemed to be somewhat closer. This being a clear message for the prophets of doom who talked about the match in Iruña as if it were a step to be taken in an obligatory and apathetic fashion. Just before the goal, the referee forgave Sergio, who deserved a red card, for kicking Llorente who did not have the ball when the latter committed a foul against him.
Amorebieta and Flaño were the next to be sanctioned. In the 61st minute Ibai stepped in for Toquero, making this his tenth league match on behalf of Athletic Club and extending his contract until 30 June 2014. The newcomer to the field positioned himself on the left wing and Muniain moved towards the centre. Afterwards, Pérez went on to play on the left flank and De Marcos recuperated a position more upfront.
Athletic took another step forward and Sergio almost scored against his own team in the 65th minute. Manu made his debut when replacing Nino, Raúl García stopped a volley in his own area with his arm, which is a penalty, and shortly afterwards Cejudo, with his left, kicked the ball over the crossbar, while Lamah’s ball found the outside part of the net, Ibai and Herrera were both shown yellow cards.
Our squad now had to take risks, and they did so more than usual, which implies that the clash was a series of comings and goings at times. Ibai’s shot at goal taken with the right was deflected and so too was Manu’s shot which was a bit tighter (near the goalmouth). De Marcos joined the sanctioned-players’ clubs, whereas Mendilibar introduced brawn by way of Raoul Loe who stepped in for Cejudo.
Another shot at goal taken by Ibai was caught by Andrés and more nervousness and excitement. Lamah left so that Annunziata could step onto the pitch close to the 90 minute mark, and during the four minutes of injury time the opportunities and frights rocketed. First with Muniain, who received a pass from Iraola and from the centre of the area, finished it off with his right but Andrés did his utmost to clear the ball almost from the very own goal line. Soon afterwards, Manu planted himself in front of Iraizoz who guessed right in this one to one affair and, in the 94th minute, as if all that had happened before were not enough, Iraola guessed well a pass by Flaño and though he was able to beat Andrés who had stepped out, a defender cleared the ball to corner from under the posts. And that’s how our chances of reaching a draw ended.
As it seems, for luck to shine on our team in the dying stages is almost impossible, at least to date. What’s more, Iraola was hit with a blunt object in the face. Fortunately only a small bleeding wound to his cheekbone, but we hope that we won’t have to raise our arms in the air one day.
And now with the match played at the Reyno de Navarra stadium behind us, on Thursday the very difficult UEL challenge against Manchester United awaits, a different story altogether between two teams willing to play so that the ball can circulate along the grass and with an exceptional atmosphere assured.