|First Division - Day 18|
Real Sociedad 0 - Athletic Bilbao 2
Alberto; Loren (Xavi Alonso 85'), Pikabea, Jauregui; Fuentes, Tayfun,
López Rekarte; Khokhlov; Idiakez (De Paula 57'), De Pedro; Jankauskas
(Llorente 87'). 3-3-3-1.
Team changes: Real: Loren, Jauregui, Idiakez for Corino, Aranzábal, De Paula / Bilbao: Larrazábal, Javi González, Tiko for Roberto Rios, Del Horno, Yeste.
Athletic Bilbao won the Basque derby with their neighbours Real Sociedad for the first time in eight years thanks to a goal in each half by Joseba Etxeberria. The San Sebastian side had won five and drawn ten of the last fifteen league games between the two clubs, but with Real Sociedad struggling at the foot of the first division Athletic took their opportunity to finally lay the ghost. And to add insult to injury, the man who scored the two goals was a player who was on the books of Real Sociedad, and who was poached by the Bilbao club from under their noses a few seasons ago. That was probably why Etxeberria was received by a hail of plastic Coca Cola bottles when he mistakenly approached the crowd after scoring the second goal, giving supporters an impromptu view of his dribbling skills as he dodged bottle after bottle making a hasty exit.
Real Sociedad's new manager John Toshack had put his foot right in it in the pre-match press conference, stating that he wasn't going to be the idiot who lost this match after the 15 games without defeat. The press reminded him that the last time he made a statement like that was when in Real Madrid, saying that pigs would fly over the Santiago Bernabeu stadium before he resigned. The next day bacon went up as he got his marching orders. He is still though trying to find his first choice team, having only arrived ten days ago, and with Corino suspended and Aranzábal injured, he brought back one of his favourites Loren into defence, with Jauregui playing as makeshift defender and Idiakez returning from suspension in place of De Paula. Txetxu Rojo on the Athletic bench had to make do with what he had, and with Rios joining the long injury list and Julen Guerrero and Urrutia not yet fully recovered, youngsters Cuéllar and Exposito were called up to make up numbers.
It was a typical derby, with few chances created for either side. The visitors had the best of the first half, with Tiko shooting over before Etxeberria broke the ice, Urzaiz doing well to control the ball surrounded by four defenders before laying it square to the unmarked winger. The introduction of De Paula in the second half gave some support to the hitherto unaided Jankauskas, and both went close with shots from inside the area. Referee Muñiz Fernández waved away claims from both sides for penalties, Bilbao for a possible foul by Pikabea on Etxeberria and then Real Sociedad for a clear hand ball by Larrainzar in the area, and De Pedro sent a header looping against the post with Lafuente beaten. But with ten minutes to go Oscar Vales found Etxeberria with a long ball, and the game was over.
Toshack brought on Xavi Alonso (son of Periko) and Joseba Llorente at the end, the two youngsters he has brought back from Eibar, and they may get a longer game next week. But this was Athletic's day, and their run of ten months without an away win comes to an end as they move away from the relegation zone to the safety of mid-table. With the bottom five all losing Real's position is no worse than last week, and they play another local rival Osasuna next week with a chance to get off the bottom spot. Toshack is also looking for more resources, and may announce new signings soon. He still has half a season to save them.