Saturday, December 9, 2023

Berenguer decides in the 98th minute and from a penalty in a thrilling clash against Celta

In the 98th minute and with a penalty, Alex Berenguer decided a crazy match between Athletic and Celta in San Mamés, a clash that opened the thirteenth day of LaLiga EA Sports that ended 4-3 and had everything from seven goals to two penalties through numerous VAR reviews until finally being decided on the last play.

Celta took the lead twice with two long-range shots from Iago Aspas and the Ivorian Jonathan Bamba, the latter after Oihan Sancet’s 1-1 draw, taking advantage of a loose ball in the visiting area from a Nico Williams cross.

Gorka Guruzeta equalized, after a pass from Nico, at the end of the first half and completed the comeback at the beginning of the second, after a shot by Nico was rejected by Vicente Guaita, and Jorgen Strand Larsen made it 3-3 at will after a service from Aspas in a con.

And Celta could still score 3-4, in a penalty due to a handball from Guruzeta, but in the international duel Unai Simón beat Aspas with a stretch to clear the ball next to the post. The light blue team did not score from 11 meters, but the red and white team did. Specifically Berenguer, after a maximum foul by Oscar Mingueza.

With this victory, Athletic strengthens its position in Europe and is provisionally approaching the Champions League, while Celta’s defeat keeps it in its crisis and in relegation positions.

At the beginning, Rafa Benítez was forced to change the double pivot due to the suspension of the Peruvian Renato Tapia, sent off against Sevilla, and some muscle discomfort at the last minute of Hugo Sotelo, and Ernesto Valverde repeated the team’s 2-3 in Villarreal.

The match started already frenetic with two arrivals, one to each area, from Nico in the 2nd minute to a center from De Marcos and Bamba in the 4th after a great diagonal from Beltrán.

The clash seemed to slow down a little in the rest of the first quarter of an hour, but that’s it. A shot from Guru to Nico’s center opened a succession of chances, most of them for Celta, which led to a first goal by Aspas disallowed for offside. The light blue ’10’ had collected the rebound from a save by Unai Simón from a shot by Larsen.

The ‘Prince of punts’ was not happy, as he missed a shot that went well over the local goal. But on the third time the Celtiña captain did not miss, who, after beating Paredes, hit a shot from outside to inside from 20 meters that Simón could not stop.

Before, Athletic already had two good chances but neither Guruzeta nor Sancet were able to respond to the level of the Williams’ good crosses.

After 1-1, the lions surrounded Guaita’s goal, but it didn’t seem like Sancet was having his day in the area. But it was a wrong idea, since a cross from Nico, which he touched on Mingueza and was poorly cleared by Starfelt, blocked by Vesga, allowed the international ‘8’ to tie the game.

The joy of the dedicated local stands was short-lived, since, in another great shot from the front, and to the right of a beaten Simón, Bamba made it 1-2.

And it wasn’t enough either because Athletic didn’t change their idea, they insisted on tackling and, after a diagonal from Nico that Guaita stopped, they scored 2-2 on the last day of a long – it lasted 50 minutes – first half.

Things didn’t change after the break because Athletic came out hard and quickly made it 3-2. Nico seemed to have it done, and he finished off another good cross from De Marcos, but Guruzeta did it in his style, that is, getting ahead of the defense after another great play by Nico.

Sancet was able to make it 4-2 by finishing another cross from Nico very high, but what came were two goals from Celta. The first was annulled to Larsen due to a new offside and the second was valid, also from Larsen, after a pass from Aspas after a good counter from Vigo.

Celta could have made it 3-4 on a penalty due to a handball by Guruzeta that was reviewed by the VAR, but Aspas’ tight shot, in the 72nd minute, was stopped by Simón showing his stripes as an international starter.

Athletic, with Sancet and Dani García, also had their chances in the final siege, but ended up deciding on a penalty after a handball from Mingueza in a non-dangerous position.


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