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Athletic Club Bilbao 1-2 Rayo Vallecano: San Mamés misery continues

by Heath Chesters | Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2013

Controversial penalty, plenty of bookings, but still no joy for Athletic Club Bilbao during a bad-tempered affair at San Mamés.

Athletic-RayoA lively start to the encounter between Athletic Club Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano saw early chances arrive for both sides. Lass with great work getting into position, but failing to test the keeper with his shot. At the other end, Aduriz lost out in a duel with Rayo keeper Rubén.

After the early chances, it didn’t take long for some early bookings. Gálvez showed no intention to play the ball for Rayo, with a rough challenge on Muniain, whilst moments later De Marcos was booked for Athletic.

For the remainder of the half, whilst the game was very open, Rayo couldn’t test Iraizoz in the Athletic goal, whilst the hosts were unable to take their chances. Susaeta was a whisker away from scoring in the 20th minute with the best chance of the half, whilst Rayo keeper Rubén was able to deal with a headed chance from Ibai Gómez. The sides headed into the half-time interval goal-less.

As the second-half began, it didn’t take Rayo long to take the advantage. Athletic were opened up in the middle and in popped Lass for Rayo in the 48th minute, with time and space to rifle the ball past Iraizoz. Iraola could be in trouble if the Disciplinary Committee view replays of the match though, because as Lass celebrated his goal for Rayo, he was spat at by the Athletic player.

Relentless and riding on the crest of a wave, Rayo continued to push forward. Tested by Baptistao, Iraizoz had to save with his feet.

It just wasn’t happening for Athletic and Bielsa was clearly frustrated, as were the home fans by the sound of the whistles from the stands, as Llorente was brought on for Muniain.

Heading into the final half-hour of the game though, Athletic started to rally. Aduriz first, with Rayo keeper Rubén managing to claw his effort away. Then Llorente rose highest from a corner, but his header smashed the crossbar.

Looking better but out of luck, Athletic were dealt a cruel blow in the moments to follow their lively spell of pressure. Rayo broke forward in the 65th minute and Gurpegui brought down Chori Domínguez. Confusion followed as the referee first gave an offside decision against the Rayo attacking midfielder, then following consultation with the linesman, decided to award the visitors a penalty. Athletic players were furious, as Gurpegui was booked, then Piti stepped up to fire the penalty kick past Iraizoz to give the visitors a two-goal lead. Replays later seemed to suggest a monumental error from the officials though, as the “foul” was actually outside the 18-yard box.

With heated tempers in the boiling cauldron of San Mámes, more cards came from the referee for either side, before fuelled by their anger, Athletic pulled one back with a volleyed finish from San José. It was game on now for the home side.

Into a frantic final ten minutes then. Rúben managed to regain ground, as Llorente tried to beat him from the edge of the area, whilst the towering striker’s next chance was off-target and he should have levelled the game.

The home side were desperate to score and Rayo were now under pressure. That pressure increased when in the 89th minute, Gálvez picked up his second booking of the night for a foul on Llorente, then five minutes added time were indicated by the fourth official.

Backs to the wall for Rayo, whilst Athletic threw everything they had forward. Ultimately despite a last-minute chance from Susaeta, Rayo managed to hold out for a well-earned victory.

Rayo Vallecano continue to surpass expectations, climbing into the European places with their win. Meanwhile for Athletic Club Bilbao, a horrible season gets worse, beginning 2013 with a home defeat, just as they finished 2012 at San Mamés.

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