Athletic Club went into El Sadar on Saturday unbeaten in Basque Derbies this year, but they knew it was going to be a difficult match. First half goals from Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams lifted the Lions to a 2-1 victory and drew the team only one point off the 6th place spot in the La Liga table. Following the match, manager Ernesto Valverde spoke to the press and praised Osasuna’s effort.
“In the first half we were not comfortable, and we couldn’t create enough chances. When we got past the first line we struggled to score. Our inaccuracies gave them options and kept them in the game. We have a very high bar of expectations and sometimes we respond to it and sometimes others do. We must recognize the courage that they have played with and that they could have scored more from their very clear chances. We give them credit, but we were also lucky to not concede more.”
Valverde also took the time to praise Inaki Williams who has gotten some negative press this season due to a lack of goals. He said that the team trusts the winger completely and that the three points would go a long way to helping the team reach their goal of qualifying for Europe next season.
“It is clear that goals help strikers to settle in and gain confidence. Last year he had a very high success rate and we hope that he can continue scoring goals. He is still the same player he has always been and we trust him. Benat was a nuisance for them and I saw a great game from him. These three points were very important and now we must focus for the next game to keep adding points.”
The Lions will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Espanyol at the San Mames. A win could see Athletic climb all the way to 5th in the table depending on results from Real Sociedad and Villarreal. Valverde’s team is right on the cusp of qualifying for Europe once again and you can bet that these final 9 league games will be very intense.