A penalty converted by Raúl García puts an end to their bad run in the league and restores their morale for the Copa semi-final
Athletic Club are back on their winning track after defeating Villarreal 1-0, thanks to a penalty goal from Raúl García, which boosts their morale ahead to the cup semi-final in Granada. The lions proved to be a very solid team in defence again, not letting the visitors score, something nobody had managed to do on the road in LaLiga against the team managed by Calleja.
They had to break a sweat, but it was a fair result. Athletic, with several new faces and going back to the defensive four formation, claimed a penalty after Muniain was grabbed by Trigeros. Having no time to feel sorry, Simón beat Gerard Moreno in a one-on-one, the best tribute he could have paid to Iribar on his 77th birthday. In the first minute, the audience sang his chant ‘Iribar es cojonudo’ to El Txopo. It was a perfect day for him.
Raúl gave them a warning with a left-footed shot that went over the crossbar after a fine pass from Yuri, who was part of their powerful right wing together with Córdoba, who received a standing ovation after his comeback. It was the Atlético’s ex-player who seemed to be close to scoring, and he did it by converting a penalty kick awarded to them when a shot from Williams hit Pau on his hand.
The scoring could have been finished off on 65 minutes, when the referee signaled another penalty foul when Albiol hit the ball with his hand after a header from Iñigo Martínez. Iñaki Williams took responsibility, but Sergio Asenjo read his mind. A couple of scares from Alcácer made them tremble with fear, but Athletic were nearer to scoring one more time.
Iñigo Martínez dived to stop a well-centered ball from Córdoba and Asenjo proved his level in a double save to Sancet and Capa’s right-footed shot. Athletic, rearranged with three midfielders, celebrated the victory with their supporters. A win and a favourable goal average against an opponent sitting at the top positions of the standings. It’s now time to make it through to the cup final with a very high morale.