RedBull Salzburg VS Athletic Club 11/3/2011 | Athletic Club’s Official Website
Matchday 04

RedBull Salzburg0 : 1Athletic Club

Ander Herrera37'
Red Bull Arena
7:00 PM
Date and time
11/3/2011 - 7:00 PM

A victory to enter the Round of 16

Salzburg 0 – Athletic Club 1Athletic Club has classified for the UEFA Europa League Round…

Nov 3, 2011

Salzburg 0 – Athletic Club 1

Athletic Club has classified for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, though there are still two matchdays left in the Stage (Slovan Bratislava in San Mamés and PSG in Paris), after defeating FC Salzburg by 0-1. Ander Herrera chose a good moment to make his debut as a scorer in an official match and his goal in the minute 37 seals a good European run. On this occasion the team, dressed in green, maintained the advantage on the scoreboard till the end and continue in their run of consecutive undefeated matches (ninth). The tenth, as it is for others, is something difficult to obtain, especially mainly if we consider that on Sunday we have the meet with powerful FC Barcelona in San Mamés, which is why things don’tlook simple, although our team is not one that gives anything away beforehand.

Before that league meet, that of Salzburg was not as bad against a rival that was gambling a great deal of its options to qualify for the following round and which, in a parallel effort, hoarded an important amount of undefeated matchdays at a cozy field in which today more than 10,000 spectators have met, including 630 rojiblanco fans. In that context, not that it’s strange; Athletic Club’s start has been like the temperature, cold though worry-free.

Salzburg preferred to counterstrike, but curiously enough it was the opponent’s loss of the ball in hot zones that gave options to create danger. After a quarter hour without excessive scares, Jantscher has been the first to create such danger, as he was the first to be booked with a yellow. His shot started off another great performance by our goalie Iraizoz.

Like other times, Athletic Club was the one that held on most to the ball, sometimes with certain comfort, but the Austrian’s pressure forces our players to give to the ball back to Iraizoz and less times facing Gustafsson. And from those few occasions, in addition to a shot by Llorente deflected to corner by the goalie, the clearest attempt came in the 17th when De Marcos sent a deep pass that left Susaeta all alone, but the assistant referee considered, though with little sense, that he was offside.

Salzburg had another occasion, this time from a set piece, with a wide header by Schiemer in the 20th. The Austrians pressure was not excessively organized leaving an opening for San Jose to almost take the ball to the opposite field, but for those sponsored by Red Bull, each approach gave them wings. In the front the gift almost came when Gustafsson slid in the 21st minute, although Cziommer’s attempt has been clearer in the 27th, with deflection by Iraizoz and rebound cleared by Aurtenetxe.
That is when Salzburg’s caffeine worn off, who had no more options until Maierhofer failed to take advantage of a ball in injury time. On the contrary the rojiblanco’s advantage has been optimal. Pressure paid off in the minute 37 and after Muniain stole a ball and shot it off to Herrera, he was able to get away from his defence, and easily faced Gustafsson to debut his scoring career in an official match.

A goal scored and controversy due to a couple of previous plays. The most debatable was a clearance by San Jose in the area that could have been interpreted as a dangerous play and was the preface of the goal. Be that as it may, that circumstance made the complaint before the referee the most fervent argument when it came to justifying the local defeat, during and after the match. On the contrary, without searching further, details like when Sekagya slapped Llorente in the 33rd, susceptible to turning into a direct red, a clear and claimed penalty on this same player in the 76th or possible second yellow on Maierhofer are not trivial realities. Yet, the goal tranquilized our team and exacerbated the locals.

What’s more, given the precedents of Valencia or El Molinón, the question was whether the team would be capable, this time certainly, to tie up the victory after getting ahead and more so with the minutes remaining. The response was rather clear. At the interval Muniain remained in the changing rooms and Toquero occupied his position moving Susaeta to the left flank. A substitution that Bielsa later described as precipitated.

In spite of FC Salzburg’s spirited entrance there were hardly any difficulties. In fact, Susaeta, who enjoyed the first attempt, but his shot went way high in the 60th. At that time Moniz chose to contradict his predictions of previous appearances, since he introduced Leonardo (of whom he had said was totally discarded) in for Jantscher. Nevertheless, it has been Hinteregger who created danger in the 65th, almost the only one in the second half, with an awesome left which Iraizoz deflected to corner.

Meanwhile, Bielsa had his own problems after Iturraspe was booked with yellow and local spectators continued demanding a second on every play. Seeing things as they were in the second half, it was not preposterous to think that a second would bring about his sent-off and Bielsa introduced Amorebieta in the 68th. Javi Martinez changed from a centre-forward to the midfield.
Adding more fuel to the fire! Another that was practically out of the match (the only one missing was Zárate) Wallner, goal scorer along with Leonardo in San Mamés, replaced Cziommer.

On the contrary, the clearest attempt to score has been for Athletic through San Jose, but Gustafsson sensed his gesture. In a later corner kick we clearly saw the mentioned penalty on Llorente and latter high shot by Wallner. It became the last opportunity to equalize for the Austrian team though they’ve tried their hardest, strategic plays even in the throw-ins into the area from the right of their attack; all in vain.

What’s more, as a good symptom that is, our team defended from order and conviction that each stolen ball could be destined to do damage to the opponent and as has occurred in the latest matches, the final stretch during the game finds more of our players in the rival’s field than in our own. Today, without going further, Llorente headed a way-too-smooth header rightinto Gustafsson’s hands in the 80th minute and in the 89th, already with Iñigo Perez on the poitch having replaced Susaeta, De Marcos finished off wide with his right.

It could have been the perfect topping on the cake for the classification, but our team did not need more to remain as Group leader. In case of a draw at 10 points between Athletic Club, PSG who defeated Slovan Bratislava and FC Salzburg by 1-0 and having certainly assumed, with scientific base whatsoever, that both upcoming matches were lost, the triple draw would assure a second position within the group. Therefore, the first objective has been achieved, to play the Round of 16, sometime in February 2012, which supposes psychic reinforcement in view of the match against Barcelona with the added handicap of the two days of rest that the azulgranas have had. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the fact that we are in EUROPA!