Athletic Club played their first home game of the season on Thursday when they hosted Dinamo Bucuresti in the second leg of their Europa League qualifier. It was also the first match at the San Mamés for new manager Kuko Ziganda who had been looking forward to this day for a long time. Thanks to two goals from Raúl García and one from Aritz Aduriz, the Lions defeated the Romanians 3-0 and booked their place in the next round of the tournament. Ziganda spoke to the media after the game and said that he was very pleased with the result and performance.
“We are happy with the match and with the result. We knew what kind of game was waiting for us. The team defended well and was very organized. The team feels solvent and satisfied. They were very compact. We started strong and tried to score early. We achieved that with a good passing and runs. In the second half we were a bit more tired, but were still very organized.”
Ziganda went on to say that coaching at the San Mamés is an amazing opportunity for him and that hearing the hymn played was something really special. The fans gave a great atmosphere that helped the players put on a brilliant show and earn a vital victory.
“This is an amazing opportunity. It is an incredible feeling. Hearing the hymn at the San Mamés was an incredible feeling. It is something that I will never forget. Every day that passes I hope to feel the same. We are very happy because the fans wanted to enjoy the San Mamés today and the stadium was filled with a great atmosphere. The second round awaits and we want to give them another great performance.”
The Lions now wait for Friday’s drawing to find out who their opponents will be in the next round. Ziganda said that there are no easy teams left so he does not have a preference for the next round of matches.
“I don’t have any preferences for the draw tomorrow. Everyone is well matched and there is no easy opponent. The match on Saturday against Liverpool will be an amazing game. It is a real test for us. It will be a beautiful game and something I feel the fans will enjoy.”
If Athletic can advance past the next round they will book their place in the Europa League group stage. The Basques are dreaming of another deep run in the tournament and Thursday’s victory was just the jumping off point. It was exciting for fans to finally see football back at the San Mamés and the Lions were able to continue their dominant form at home. Now the team will turn their attention to Saturday’s friendly against Liverpool in Dublin, Ireland.