Gaizka Garitano “We Knew We Were Going To Suffer, We Deserved The Victory”
Athletic finally managed to win their first game on the road this Sunday and, in the process, put an end to Osasuna’s 31 game unbeaten streak at El Sadar. It was far from an easy match with the hosts making things difficult for Athletic with an intense press, but a late goal from Kenan Kodro won the three points for the Lions who moved up to 5th in the La Liga table.
“I think we deserved the victory for the way we played and how the team has performed in the last few away games,” said Gaizka Garitano after the match. “We were solid. We were able to suffer during the times we were pressed and we deserved the victory. Today, at a very difficult field, we have important absences such as Muniain and Raúl García and the rest showed their faces.”
The manager went on to explain that it was necessary to bring on more physical players, such as Mikel San José, later in the game which made a difference. With several injuries in the team others had to step up in order to get a positive result.
“In the first half we had more time with the ball. We knew that Oihan (Sancet) and Unai (López) were going to run out of gas after an hour or so and that there would be need for more physical players in the last minutes. We need every player. Kodro has done well and is one of the best professionals I have.”
Osasuna’s impressive run had to come to an end at some point but it was no accident. Garitano knew that Athletic would have a difficult time in Pamplona and referenced several other clubs who were unable to take all three points at El Sadar.
“We knew that we were going to suffer in some stretches like it was in the beginning of the second half. Nobody wins here without suffering, which is why Osasuna had gone 31 games without defeat. We have seen many teams go ahead and then Osasuna turns the game around. We knew how to play when we could and when we couldn’t we knew how to suffer.”
After Osasuna managed to level the score in the second half there was concern over what could follow. “When you concede a tying goal there’s always the feeling that another goal is come, which is sometimes the truth,” Garitano admitted. “It happened to Valencia and Villarreal, but the players had the audacity to continue attacking and not lower their heads.”
Oihan Sancet, who was making his first start for Athletic, assisted the opening goal of the game and put in a solid performance. Garitano was asked about the 19-year-old after the match and was full of praise for the midfielder.
“Oihan did very well until he ran out of gas. This was a big stage, his first game as a starter. He made the pass between the lines for the first goal and participated a lot with the ball. He has quality, self-confidence, and is driven. He’s a different player that we need but he has to keep improving and working hard to be an Athletic player every week.”
There will be more challenging games to come but Garitano is confident that Athletic can continue their good form. “We have reliability and consistency which are very important in football, said the Mister. “We are a competitive team that has had virtually no bad games. This team competes every week and is always in each game.” Athletic will have the opportunity to climb higher in the table next weekend when they host Granada at San Mamés.