Athletic Club defeated Malaga by 3-0, with goals by Amorebieta, San Jose and Toquero, all of them in the second half. It’s been a perfect three-minute storm to decide a difficult match, and more so after what was seen in the first half. After the break things have been quite different and the rojiblancos, besides winning the match have won their particular goal-average, which could be influential in the case of a final draw. Given that the classification for the 2012/13 UEL edition is on track, it feels as getting into the top four of the Liga table may be our main challenge. Nevertheless, before visiting Villarreal without the presumably booked players as Muniain and De Marcos, the European classification will be at play on Thursday; just another presumed match in sight.
Resisting in the first half has been the key to winning later. The team did not defend well at all, but they were able to maintain it goalless against a Malaga that came out strong. Seba, in the first minute brushed the goal after a shot that grazed Ekiza and went to corner. Upon his kick Toulalan serve headed wide. A ball that was off target for Susaeta and a header by Toquero, which was lost near the post, brought about an ephemeral oasis, the calm before the storm. Malaga laid their foundations on the game in trying to overtake the pressure of the front line and to do so they had no problem once and again in finding Rondón and his strength. From that point on they were weaving without haste and won most individual plays, which is why the first twenty minutes brought about a good dose of suffering. Nevertheless, the rojiblancos, supported mainly in Iraizoz’ interventions, left without irreparable damages to the interval.
After the aforementioned oasis our goalie made a triple intervention in the minute 6, from a shot by Rondón to deflection by defenders and Cazorla and to a later shot on goal by Rondón who sent it to corner. The same Venezuelan striker sent a wide header. Isco shot with his left but found Iraizoz before Iraola inaugurated the list of cautioned players.
The relationship increased little by little, although the referee was not in agreement with everyone, mainly for his criterion, that, for example, allowed Weligton to finish the match, firstly by not booking him with a red when it was considered that he kicked Toquero with the ball far from him, some 40 metres away, or just before the break when he didn’t book him with a second yellow for handling.
Back to the match, a shot on goal from a free kick by Susaeta was deflected to corner by Sanchez with his back in the 16th; it was the first weak signal of the rojiblanco’s resurrection. Immediately following in our own area Iraola overtook Seba, and our goalie deflected another two shots by Isco and Rondón.
The second yellow of the evening has been for Herrera before the Weligton’s aforementioned, although it’s left said that his latter entry on Toquero lodged still less doubt. Little by little Athletic occupied more of the rival’s field and strategy began to look as a more interesting route. Susaeta shot a free kick into the barrier and De Marcos’ goal was disallowed in the 26th; well done.
Malaga, although more sporadically, once again created some danger, as the shot on goal by Cazorla in the 36th, saved by Iraizoz, and later Rondón shot wide. At least to end the first half in a positive tone, Toquero had his option after overtaking the goalie, Willy, but his cross was not strong enough to find a striker.
The Andalusian team seemed to be retiring after being superior, at least when it came to making occasions, but in spite of a defective defence, the rojiblancos were leading not allowing any goals. In the changing room Bielsa decided to give way to Llorente replacing Susaeta, moving Toquero to the right wing, and Amorebieta fighting against his National teammate, Rondón.
Renewal of play was at first more balanced and, secondly, it’s seen how Athletic Club increased the number of corners and free kicks in the hot zone. Llorente forcedly headed a corner in the 55th, a prelude of three magical minutes between the 58th and the 61st, with three golden goals, something that had not occurred in that lapse of time since 1952 against Las Palmas.
In the 58th a corner kick ended up with a deflection which San Jose strongly shot on goal and, after bouncing off a couple of defenders, ended up in Amorebieta’s boots, who hooked an unattainable drive with his left which Willy could not save. Athletic saw its opportunity. Shortly after Muniain was able to score the second, but his shot on goal with the left after the counterattack led by Aurtenetxe, was deflected by Willy’s left hand and whose deflection was finished off by Herrera but it ran into Isco. The ball went to corner and from there Toquero served for San Jose to score the 2-0 with an accurate header.
However, things did not stop there, since Muniain stole the ball just when the cross took place, he shot it deep to Herrera who shot it right where Toquero with a spectacular volley shot it into the net.
And on another subject, seeing the situation of the five bookings of Muniain and De Marcos who will not be available to play in Villarreal, well! Pellegrini made a double substitution: Joaquin and Eliseu in for Recio and Seba; without going further. Soon Camacho replaced Toulalan. The occasions were more spaced in time, like when De Marcos couldn’t reach a cross from Llorente before Perez entered for Herrera, and the first for Malaga, no longer as clear as those of first half, it was a header by Weligton in the 79th, which led to a high shot by Rondón in the 80th.
Our Athletic, however, wanted more without stopping to think about future meets and the play of the 83rd minute, with a cross by Llorente from the left and header from the ‘right winger’, Iraola, with 3-0 on the scoreboard, which summarizes if not perfectly, certainly with enough approximation that this team can play. A shot on goal by Eliseu, flat though wide, has been the last attempt in a match that keeps us in the hot zone along with many prospective teams.
And now a rare avis, four days between matches, ideal to replenish strength, heal wounds and try to turn San Mamés into a fortress to eliminate Lokomotiv and set the European bow toward Old Trafford.