Competition news


18 Apr 2009
Undeserved but at the same time needed win for Deportivo, the Galicians suffered against Athletic, especially in the second half. But the only shot on target throughout the game for Lotina’s side, made by Pablo Alvarez, is meaning three points of gold.

As it was expected, both coaches sent the expected starting lineups, though Athletic was making one change. Lotina was making five modifications compared to the squad that lost against Atletico Madrid. Diego Colotto was replacing injured Lopo, while Z? Castro was returning to take the place of Pablo Amo . Meanwhile Pablo ?lvarez was replacing injured Lafita and Verd?? was coming back to claim the spot of Valer??n. Finally, De Guzm??n was left out of the game and Juan Rodr?guez replaced him.

At Athletic, coach Caparr??s was missing his two central defenders, Aitor Ocio and Fernando Amorebieta, both were suspended and replaced by Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora (25) and Xabier Etxeita. In attack, the main references were Javi Mart?nez, Fran Yeste, and Fernando Llorente. The novelty was that Ion V?lez was sited on the bench, while youngster Gaizka Toquero was the partner of Llorente in attack.

No matter both sides were needing the points, the start of the match was soulless, with the teams stuck in midfield. But soon a problem appeared for Deportivo, because Antonio Tom??s fell down injured with only six minutes in the clock. It seems to be a related problem to the hamstring strain injury suffered by the Cantabrian two months ago; he was soon replaced by Sergio.

The first approximation of the game was made by Athletic and occurred at minute 12, all started with a cross from Toquero that Depor’s defense couldn’t clear, then Jav? Mart?nez assisted David L??pez, who sent the ball over the crossbar from close range. Two minutes later the locals protested a hand of Juan Rodr?guez inside the visiting area during a play of Llorente, but referee Clos G??mez didn’t whistle anything.

Meanwhile, the offensive game of Depor was inexistent, Guardado and Pablo Alvarez started the game switching their positions, but they were missing the connection with Lassad and Verd??. But things started to improve for Depor at minute 20, the first approximation of the Galicians came in that minute as Sergio attempted a shot that went wide. Two minutes later it was Guardado who was trying to find Lassad, but the final shot went out.

Then, at the 27th minute, Guardado tried to chip the ball from outside the area, but his effort went out. Three minutes later Lassad was having one of the best opportunities in the game as he built up a play with Pablo Alvarez and Sergio that left the Tunisian in a good position inside the area, but his crossed shot went out and Laure couldn’t find the ball in the far post.

But the attacks of Depor just awakened ?The Lions’, because in the last minutes they harassed Depor’s area. At minute 31, Toquero attempted a long-distance shot after receiving a pass from Javi Martinez, but the ball went close to the post. Five minutes later Iraola was close to score after a cross from Javi Martinez and a combination between Yeste and David L??pez, the final shot was going into the net, but Z? Castro threw himself to the ground and cleared the danger.

Deportivo responded with a combination between Verd?? and Lassad that earned a free-kick for the Galicians, but Sergio sent the ball over the crossbar (39’). The home team responded with a good play in which Llorente made a pass with the chest to the path ofJavi Martinez, but the final shot from the young midfielder went wide.

It was an entertaining first half, at least since minute 25, because it was then when both sides had their best opportunities. The main one for Depor was made by Lassad but it ended out. As it usually happens in the away games, Depor was having problems in order to have the ball possession, but at least they reached half-time without allowing a goal, something that hasn’t occurred since three matchdays ago (Sporting).

Athletic started the final half in the same way in which it ended the first part: attacking. At minute 46, David L??pez made a good play that ended in corner-kick, then and after two straight crosses, Toquero headed the ball out. Three minutes later the same David L??pez was sending a new cross that was found by Llorente, but his header went directly to Aranzubia. Curiously and no matter that both sides had several chances before, this play represented the first shot on target in the entire game.

At minute 54, Koikili sent a cross from the left that was searching for the head of Toquero, but Aranzubia cleared the danger with his fists. Two minutes later Guardado couldn’t capitalise an error of Iraizoz as the keeper gave a ?pass’ to him when he was trying to clear the ball, but the Mexican preferred to search for Juan Rodriguez instead of trying to shot, in the end his cross missed a receiver.

Caparr??s’ side was close to score at minute 60 through a play started by Llorente, the striker assisted Yeste, who drilled a new pass to the penalty spot, but Koikili missed the target from close range. Two minutes later, Toquero, the most active attacker for Athletic, surpassed Laure at the right, but the play was cleared by Depor’s defence.

Then Guardado had a great opportunity after a cross of Laure that was deflected by Lassad, but the Mexican sent the ball over the crossbar (64’). Just one minute later, Pablo Alvarez sent a precise cross to the path of Lassad, but Ustaritz cleared the ball with the head before it reached the Tunisian.

Athletic responded with a triple chance that had Gaizka Toquero as the protagonist, first the striker headed a corner that was contained by Aranzubia (68’), then the same player built up a play on the left that gave to David L??pez a good chance to score, but his shot went out (69’). Again the ex-Sestao River attacker appeared one minute later to attempt a shot on target after a far cross from Orbaiz, but Aranzubia stopped the ball.

Depor was suffering a lot in the second part and Lotina tried to shake the things allowing the entry of Rodolfo Bodipo for Lassad, but the Guinean never appeared, mainly because nobody was having the ball behind him, starting with Verd?? and Sergio, players that just vanished from the pitch during the second half.

The last fifteen minutes meant the continuity of the harassment from Athletic, at minute 79 Orbaiz attempted a long-distance shot that was searching for the top-left corner, but Aranzubia, again, made the save sending the ball to corner. Seven minutes before the end, Guardado was searching for Bodipo, but the striker wasn’t able to reach the cross coming from the Mexican.

It seemed the game would end scoreless, but a little distraction at the back zone of Athletic was enough to give Deportivo three golden points. Curiously, the goal came just seconds after Toquero, the best player in the game, left the pitch replaced by Ion V?lez. All started after the locals lost a ball in midfield, then Guardado assisted Pablo Alvarez at the edge of the area, ?The Shark’ attempted to drill the ball into the net of Iraizoz, but first it hit the legs of Koikili, for this reason the ball went in other direction and the local keeper could do nothing to avoid the goal. This was the only shot on target made by Deportivo in the entire match.

Caparr??s tried to react in the final minutes with the entry of Etxeberria, while Lotina was replacing Pablo Alvarez with Cristian. The final minutes, plus the stoppage time, meant a new harassment from the local team, though this time it was a desperate move searching for the aerial game of Llorente. And the chance to tie the actions arrived at the last minute as the cross of Etxeberria was headed on target by Llorente, but Aranzubia was there to save Depor and demonstrate against his former club the great season he is living. After the final whistle, referee Clos G??mez showed a red card to Javi Martinez, this after the protest from the young midfielder.

Unfair but needed victory for Deportivo, the first half was more tied, but Athletic Bilbao outplayed Lotina’s team in the second half and enjoyed of plenty of chances to secure a comfortable win, in the end they missed too much opportunities while Aranzubia was having a great night making important saves. At the end of the game, Pablo Alvarez appeared to capitalise the best chance in the night for the Galicians. The hero was ?the Shark’, but the main reason to explain the victory is at defence, because the solidity at the back was a key point to add the three points and the first clean sheet since the 1-0 at Numancia (matchday 25)

The win keeps intact the European aspirations of Deportivo, Atletico Madrid defeated Numancia at the Calder??n stadium (3-0), but Malaga CF could only drew with RCD Mallorca at home (1-1), now the Galicians are just one point behind the Andalusians and two above Villarreal, team that will face Valladolid out of town during Sunday. The bad news of the match are marked by the new injury of Antonio Tom??s, further scans will determine his situation. The next game for Depor is on Wednesday as UD Almeria visits the Riazor (20h00 CET).

Athletic: Iraizoz - Iraola, Ustaritz, Etxeita, Koikili - David L??pez, Orbaiz (Etxeberria 90’), Javi Mart?nez, Yeste (Susaeta 61’) – Toquero (Ion V?lez 86’), Llorente.
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Laure, Colotto, Z? Castro, Filipe - Antonio Tom??s (Sergio 9’), Juan Rodr?guez - Pablo ?lvarez (Cristian 88’), Verd??, Guardado – Lassad (Bodipo 74’).
Goal: 0-1: (87’) Pablo ?lvarez.
Referee: Carlos Clos G??mez. He showed yellow card to Juan Rodr?guez (15’), Ustaritz (20’), Colotto (81’) and Orbaiz (88’). Javi Martinez was sent off (90+3’)
Venue: San Mam?s (35,000)
Other statistics: Ball possession (47% - 53%); Total shots (20 - 7); Shots on target (5 - 1); Saves by the keepers (0 - 4); Corner-kicks  (6 - 2); Offsides (5 - 2); Fouls committed (16 - 16); Accuracy in the passes (84.89% - 82.88%)



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