Gaizka Garitano “We Were Better From Start To Finish”

Gaizka Garitano Levante

Gaizka Garitano was pleased with Athletic’s performance against Levante (AC)

It may have taken Athletic until the final minute of Sunday’s game to score the winner against Levante, but the result was fully deserved. The Lions were in complete control from the opening whistle and were full of confidence despite surrendering the opening goal in the first half. Naturally, Gaizka Garitano was full of praise after the match

“We were better from start to finish,” the manager told reporters in his postgame press conference. “The team always believed in the comeback. The few times we have been losing we have never been able to manage much and there has been frustration. It’s something we’ve talked about and we wanted to change that in this game.”

Football can change very quickly. Just a few weeks ago Athletic were in the middle of the five-game winless streak but since then the Lions have turned things around and now sit 6th in the La Liga table.

“The team is feeling good again. You have to stay calm but without losing the perspective of ambition. We’ve managed good matches at San Mamés, but today we have seen everything come together: the depth of the wings, Unai and Iker combining in the midfield, free kicks with San José and Raúl García. We did things very well.”

Once again, Raúl García featured at striker with Iñaki Williams playing out wide. “Iñaki is able to participate more on the wing,” Garitano explained. “At the end of the game they didn’t let him run in behind and we made a change. He can also play up top when an opponent is having more possession against us. Having alternatives with Williams, Raúl, and Iker is very good.”

Ander Capa Iker Muniain Celebrate Levante

Athletic celebrate Ander Capa’s late winner against Levante (AC)

Asier Villalibre was the one who replaced Williams in the 86th minute, making his first appearance of the season. The 22-year-old was called up for the match due to the fact that Aritz Aduriz is dealing with a hip injury but Garitano admitted that he hopes to give the striker more chances moving forward.

“We need Aduriz to recover and get well. The break will be good to recover and today Villalibre has had minutes. I’m happy for him and I’m sure that both he and Kodro are going to have more opportunities. My idea was for Villalibre to have minutes because I don’t want him to go without playing and he has to fight for his chances. The needs of the team will dictate what we do.”

Ander Capa scored the winning goal with a volley in the 88th minute which was certainly surprising to Garitano. “I haven’t seen him score a goal like that even in training,” the manager said with a smile. “I’ve known him for a long time and I’ve spent a lot of time with him. He’s a growing player. It was a really good goal.” Athletic will now have the international break to prepare for the the Basque Derby against Osasuna at El Sadar.

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