The tie in Vallecas portrays the contenders. Neither Rayo nor Athletic knew how to find the easy paths towards the opposite goal. There were skirmishes, some skirmishes in the area, but not enough shots for the production to translate into goals, so Dimitrievski and Agirrezabala sealed the goal, almost a tribute to Iribar, who nevertheless always said that the goal is the most important thing of soccer.
Dimitrievski, Abdul Mumin, Fran Garcia, Balliu, Lejeune, Óscar Valentín (Pathé Ciss, min. 80), Comesaña, Álvaro García, Trejo (Unai López, min. 79), Isi (Salvi, min. 87) and Sergio Camello ( From Thomas, min 66)
Julen Agirrezabala, Daniel Vivian, Yuri, Íñigo Martínez, Lekue (De Marcos, min. 76), Oier Zarraga (Unai Vencedor, min. 83), O. Sancet, Nico Williams, Dani García (Vesga, min. 83), Berenguer (Williams, min. 71) and Guruzeta (Raúl García, min. 71)
Referee Mario Melero Lopez
Yellow cards Abdul Mumin (min. 21)
red cards O. Sancet (min. 93)
Athletic drowned out Rayo’s exit, pressing high up. Sancet, Guruzeta, and above all, Dani García, came out like hungry wolves every time Iraola’s team wanted to hit a couple of passes in their own half, so the ball didn’t last long for the rayistas and it was the team from Bilbao that He controlled the situation and tried to play quickly on the wings, with Berenguer and Nico Williams, although Valverde’s group is somewhat lacking in finesse and it is difficult for him to choose the best options when the ball approaches the hot zones in which the matches are resolved .
Despite everything, Athletic seemed to be in control of operations, with a Rayo that was too fast in which only Isi seemed to give the game a bit of meaning. Although Dimitrievski only intervened after half an hour in a corner kick, to deflect Guruzeta and Sancet’s shots twice, the grass in his area was stepped on more than that of Agirrezabala, who was restless in a shot from Álvaro from outside the area you hit on the stick. It was the only time that Rayo could really hurt during the first half.
Then, for Athletic, Zárraga shot high from the front and Guruzeta finished off badly a good cross from Nico Williams to extend the little record generated between the two teams in a dynamic first half but with less depth than the holes on a golf course.
Something must not have pleased Iraola, who had already gone to the locker room before the final whistle, perhaps to change things, and in fact, they changed when the teams returned to the field. Athletic was turned off, Rayo was activated, and a different game began to be played. The people of Madrid had more pressure and the people of Bilbao accused the transformation of their rival. It was more difficult for Sancet to turn around and the bands did not flow like a while before.
Despite everything, the best chances were from Athletic. Nico did not reach a shot from a Berenguer cross, and the Navarrese winger did not hit the mark either in a clear counterattack in which he crashed his shot against the side of the net.
Only when Raúl De Tomás came out did the Rayista lead clear up, with two of his actions. The first, by deflecting a shot from Álvaro. Agirrezabala was quick in his reaction to stop the shot. Then he shot from outside the area and the Athletic goalkeeper sent the ball into the corner.
However, Athletic was able to win in discount, when with Rayo launched, Balliu lost a ball, Sancet took it, served Nico Williams in the area, and the youngest of the saga shot hard but hit the crossbar. The game almost ended there, but Melero, the referee, wanted to put his touch when he sent off Sancet a minute later in an action that was measured more by Ciss’s somersaults than by the severity of the play, a side tackle in which he barely there was contact. The referee scores one more for the league’s swollen statistics of red cards, compared to the rest of Europe, and leaves Athletic without one of its mainstays to face Barcelona.
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