Athletic Club’s second half comeback against Panathinaikos still has fans in amazement. After going down 2-0 with roughly 20 minutes left to play, the Lions were able to string together three quick goals and topple their hosts in Greece. Just when it looked like their Europa League dreams might be dashed, it was Aritz Aduriz who headed home the first goal that breathed new life into the Basques. He spoke with reporters after the game and was quick to admit that it was a bad showing from the team, but that he is excited with the result.
“I’m very happy for the result, but obviously it was not our best match. They dominated the first hour and we were not able to give our best version until it was almost too late. Later in the game is when we found our football. We created real chances and scored on three of them. They came out better. They were better positioned, with more space, and won most of the possession battles. We did not do well. We have to work on some things so that this does not happen in the next games.”
When asked about the first goal that opened up the floodgates, Aduriz immediately praised Iker Muniain who sent in the cross that set it all up. He said that the goal gave the Lions a lot of life and energy and helped them mount their historic comeback against a very difficult opponent.
“It all started with Iker [Muniain]. It was a great cross that I was able to look for on the far post. That goal gave us a lot. We were in a critical moment and we knew that if we could get a goal it would give us life. For them it was a hard blow and from there we knew we could get more and play better. We cannot relax even for a second. It was a tough match, with high temperatures, and we were really far from home…but we already knew all of that going into the game. We have a strong squad with a lot of desire and we are ready to start the League on Sunday.”
Before playing the return leg next Thursday, Athletic will begin their La Liga season on Sunday when they host newly promoted Getafe at the San Mamés. Kuko Ziganda wants to get off to a strong start domestically but will also have to keep a close eye on rotations. The Lions will be playing a total of four games in eleven days so it will be interesting to see how the new manager shakes things up to keep the players fresh and fit.