Sevilla Vs. Athletic Bilbao, 2011 La Liga: "Leones" Make Statement With 1-2 Away Win

Well, the second half wasn't nearly as pretty as the first, but it still had its' moments: Fernando Llorente and his band of "lions" overcame a strong Sevilla side in the perennially complicated Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán to make a strong statement to the rest of the La Liga contenders. The first half was exceedingly back-and-forth, as Athletic scored within five minutes, and Sevilla rallied to tie only nine minutes after that. The rest of the half kept with that tone, as both sides exchanged blows. 

The trip to the dressing rooms allowed both teams to catch their breath, and Sevilla came out firing at the beginning of the second half: first Alvaro Negredo, then Jesus Navas missed chances, but slowly the game began to shift to Athletic's favor. Then, in the 70th minute, Sevilla defender Spahic had a terrible time getting the ball out of los rojiblancos' defensive zone, and Iker Muniain collected the ball and slotted a long ball through; first, Javi Varas couldn't clear well, and the ball fell to De Marcos, who slotted the ball home. A terrible error from a normally solid team.

Ironically, the goal came only minutes after Athletic missed one of the best chances I've ever seen, as Fernando Llorente dribbled past a diving Varas, slotted the ball back to Muniain, whose shot on an open goal bounced off Escudé who was running back to help. 

With this win, Athletic made an important statement to the rest of la Liga--well, other than Real Madrid and Barcelona. They proved that they're able to beat strong opponents away from home, and to do it in a stylish, exciting way: exactly what Marcelo Bielsa was looking for. They deserved to win today, and if I were the coach of one of their upcoming rivals, I'd be nervous. This group of lions has just begun to roar. 

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