Athletic Club defeated visitors Real Betis on Thursday night thanks to goals from Aritz Aduriz and Iker Muniain. There was a bit of drama late when Betis had a few chances to draw level, but the Lions remained strong and saw out the 2-1 victory in front of the San Mames faithful. Following the match, Ernesto Valverde spoke to the media and said that the win was fundamental due to other results across La Liga.
“Going into this game Real and Villarreal had won so it was fundamental to get three points. The victory also gave us two more points on Eibar. There are only four matches left to play so we have to give everything we’ve got. The win was just based on the performances today. We generated more chances and that was the difference. Betis started well by tightening the field, but in the end we opened things up. There are times that you can tighten up and be aggressive and other times you have to sit back and defend. Without being very fresh I thought we did well to control the game.”
Valverde did say that he thought Athletic’s 2-0 lead would give the team and breather and allow for specific substitutions, but Ruben Castro’s quick goal forced him to change those plans. In the end, he believes the 2-1 victory was a fair result.
“After going up 2-0 I thought Muniain’s header was going to give us some tranquility. The fans helped push us but there were times that we had to defend and they played very well. There were several minutes at the end where we did all we could to defend. They had options to tie it late because their players were not afraid to play, they just needed to finish chances. Honestly, I think we deserved the win and the scoreline was a bit misleading. It was a fundamental win for us to go ahead rivals in the table. Under the circumstances there would have been different changes, but their goal changed our ideas. I don’t know what changes will be made in Vigo, I will have to see how the players are tomorrow.”
Athletic Club will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to take on Celta Vigo. The Lions have won three straight games and will be looking to keep that run going to put pressure on Villarreal for the fifth place spot in the league table. Sunday’s match will be the third game this week so it is very likely that there will be changes in the starting lineup.