Racing 1 – Athletic 2: 6th place finishBy: Jack | May 21st, 2011
After a dramatic and tense final day Athletic ended up where they started.
There were twists and turns and 15 goals in the three seperate games involving Athletic, Sevilla and Atlético but all three teams won which meant nobody changed positions in the end anyway.
Athletic claimed 6th place which means avoiding the Europa League qualifying round but also missing out on 5th place.
Sevilla struck first, in the 3rd minute through Negredo. Which didn’t really change anything. With Atléti drawing Athletic could still claim 5th place with a win.
Then Agüero scored for Atléti. Both Sevilla and Atléti were winning and Athletic weren’t. The Leones were in danger of not just missing out on 5th place but having to play the Europa qualifying round. But it was still early days.
It was a poor start for Athletic (as away games often are) until a crazy where-did-that-come-from? two minutes that put Athletic in control. First free-kick specialist David López buried one of his specials then just over a minute later Llorente doubled the lead.
Meanwhile Atléti had also gone 2-0 up and Sevilla did the same just before half-time. It was looking to be three easy wins but the second half for each team were far from straightforward.
Osvaldo pulled one back for Espanyol before Sevilla restored their two goal lead through Negredo. Agüero put Atléti 3-0 up before Mallorca, who were one Depor goal away from going down, started a fightback and got it back to 2-3. Espanyol then did the same and only one goal (from either Espanyol or Mallorca) was between Los Leones and 5th place.
While this was going on Athletic perhaps aware of other results or perhaps aware that they could no more than win, went through the motions a little bit. They were possibly a little lucky to be winning at half-time but were comfortable during the second half without trying too hard.
Atléti reasserted control in their game, Agüero completing his hat-trick to make it 4-2. Then Athletic dropped off a bit too much and let Racing back into it just before injury time. Then came a tense 3 minutes of injury time both for Athletic and for Sevilla who were holding out against Espanyol.
There was to be one last goal, but it was a Mallorca consolation which changed nothing. They stayed up anyway (at the expense of Depor) and Sevilla, Athletic and Atlético stayed in the same positions they started in. It was a nervy tense 90 minutes and our situation wasn’t even that important.
After a long season Athletic finish in 6th place and claim a European place. Memories of needing to beat Levante on the last day to stay up seem a long time ago and the team has come a long way under Caparrós. If, as widely speculated, this was his last game in charge then eskerrik asko Jokin. You have frustrated us at times in the past but the stability you have brought to the club and the faith you’ve shown in the youngsters is the main reason we’ve gone from a relegation fighting club to one finishing in the top 6. Thank you and good luck.
Other Basque football news: Both Osasuna and Real Sociedad survived. La Real drew 1-1 with Getafe to finish 15th and Osasuna beat Villarreal 1-0 to finish 9th! We look forward to playing you both again next season.