Desire crowns Athletic | Soccer | Sports


The Cup finally returns to the arms of Athletic. The desire was more decisive than the game for the reconquest of a trophy as beloved as it was elusive for the red and white club since the last final won in 1984. 40 years had already passed since the victory against Maradona’s Barça. The fans were not prepared for a seventh final loss in the Seville event. The victory, in any case, was agonizing because it did not reach the penalty round, the same luck that had taken the irreducible Mallorca to La Cartuja after eliminating Real Sociedad in the semifinals.


Julen Agirrezabala, Daniel Vivian, Aitor Paredes, Yuri (Lekue, min. 106), De Marcos, O. Sancet (Muniain, min. 90), Benat Prados (Vesga, min. 45), Nico Williams, Ruiz de Galarreta (Unai Gómez, min. 79), Williams (Berenguer, min. 90) and Guruzeta (Raúl García, min. 90)



Dominik Greif, Copete (Nastasic, min. 107), Giovanni González, Raíllo, Lato (Siebe van der Heyden, min. 110), Valjent (Pablo Maffeo, min. 90), Dani (Radonjic, min. 73), Samuel Costa , Darder (Manu Morlanes, min. 62), Muriqi and Cyle Larin (Antonio Sánchez, min. 62)

Goals 0-1 min. 20: Danny. 1-1 min. 50: O. Sancet.

Referee José Luis Munuera Montero

Yellow cards Aitor Paredes (min. 26), Muriqi (min. 91) and Radonjic (min. 118)

The outcome endorsed the trajectory and game plan of Mallorca, a team that asserts itself after denying the opponent, and rewarded Athletic’s long and suffering wait. The cup gives meaning and reinforces the identity of a red-and-white entity solemnly represented at the age of 81 by Chopo Iríbar. Athletic lives for a Cup that has also increased the European expectations of Betis, Valencia and Osasuna. Tradition outweighed Mallorca’s good form in a match of difficult emotional control, full of tension, reluctantly resolved in favor of Athletic.

It was not exactly an easy game to play for Athletic. The red-and-white fans had traveled to Seville to collect the Cup. Judging by the density of the red-and-white tide in La Cartuja, there was no one left in Bilbao. There was no alternative for a fan that went from euphoria to worry: victory or the barge would burn and the partying in the Nervión estuary would stop. Valverde’s team had no choice but to manage the pressure, combat anxiety and assume the status of favorite from the conviction that La Cartuja was San Mamés even though the northern end was occupied by the Mallorca fans. There are few teams more reliable at home than Athletic. The red and white team, however, began the game with more caution than courage, intimidated by the vigor and direct play of Aguirre’s boys.

Athletic was not comfortable, unable to impose its rhythm and its more elaborate football, closer to its goalkeeper than the opponent despite a couple of arrivals from the Williams brothers. The nervousness was evident in a corner given by Nico that ended in Dani Rodríguez’s goal. The Basques conceded up to three consecutive shots in the 0-1 play. Athletic’s rigidity contrasted with the competitive tension of Mallorca, better at hand-to-hand and very well organized around Samu Costa.

Athletic had a hard time finding air and space, being too self-conscious, and when they could run they seemed very impatient or lacking in aim, as happened in a couple of Nico’s plays, one disallowed for offside, and in a Guruzeta shot. Mallorca was grateful for the arrival of the break after a last effort by Athletic. Valverde intervened quickly in the booth and changed Prados for Vesga to try to gain more intensity in a team that had not yet shown its natural football, more similar to the one that plays in the opposite field than that of San Mamés. The match, however, resumed with an excellent save by Agirrezabala from Larin’s shot after breaking Vivian.

The goalkeeper’s intervention marked a turning point in the match because Athletic equalized shortly after. Nico Williams, present from start to finish, not only persevered in recovering the ball but also enabled Sancet in depth to finish with a cross kick against Greif. Aggressive, fast and vertical football reappeared in the 1-1 action. The red and whites, however, could not find a remedy for their defensive instability because Mallorca’s response was a shot from Muriqi’s post. The match, in any case, had clearly decided in favor of an Athletic team enlarged by the figure of Nico.

Aguirre did not take long to move the bench to contain Valverde’s team. The wheel of changes balanced the contest until at times Mallorca’s dominance prevailed. Athletic did not know very well whether to attack or secure their defense after the break that Nico was granted. Neither the starters nor the substitutes managed to avoid extra time or later the penalties because there was barely one chance on either side, the players were tired and the two fans were dedicated: “yes we can,” the Mallorcan fans sang in the background and Athletic’s cry echoed in the stadium. . Mallorca’s shooters from the penalty spot trembled in a moment of maximum tension and Agirrezabala emerged in honor of Chopo. Athletic was finally champion again after a very cup final in La Cartuja.

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