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Bielsa blames loss on his substitution

20 April 2012 02:39

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa said taking off Ander Herrera in Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg was a mistake.

The Argentine coach withdrew the midfielder with about 17 minutes remaining and the Basques a goal to the good thanks to Jon Aurtenetxe.

Just over 60 seconds later, Emiliano Insua headed Sporting level before Diego Capel then popped up with the winner, leaving Bielsa regretting his decision to replace Herrera with Mikel San Jose.

"The team suffered in the absence of Herrera," the former Chile boss told reporters. "I thought we would win more balls while they were attacking because they were just going forward at that stage.

"We obviously have to win at home now, but that should not be viewed as an unachievable objective."

Athletic had gone into the game as favourites after their exploits against Manchester United and Schalke in the earlier rounds. However, Bielsa insisted that his players had not been guilty of complacency.

"If there is one conclusion that it is simply impossible to draw after this game tonight, it is that Athletic underestimated their opponents," he argued.

Meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon's Capel said scoring the winner was a "special feeling".

"The goal was a special moment," admitted Capel, who arrived at the Jose Alvalade from Sevilla last summer.

"I am very pleased. We did our work and it was a magnificent night. Sporting played at a higher level and I am very happy with this win."

However, Capel is well aware that Sporting face an onerous task in attempting to preserve their lead in Basque country.

"It will be a very complicated game, very difficult," the former Spain international said.

"We must continue to do what we have done; to continue to play at this level."

Sporting paid a reported 2.9 million pounds for 24-year-old Capel, who has been capped twice by his country.

Athletic and Sporting meet in the second leg at San Mames next Thursday.

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Info

Competition
UEFA Europa League
Date
19 April 2012
Kick-off
21:05
Half-time
0 - 0
Full-time
2 - 1
On aggregate
3 - 4
Venue
Estádio José Alvalade (Lisboa)
Attendance
29000

Goals

0 - 1
E. Insúa 76'  
1 - 1
Capel 80'
(assist by M. Izmailov) 
2 - 1

Lineups

# Player Bookings
1
15
5
3 54'
23
14
8 29'
21
9 86'
19
10 11'
Coach: M. Bielsa

Substitutes

# Player Bookings
18
33
25
5
6
12
31
# Player Bookings
6
28
2
11
12
13
31

Friday 29 August

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07:51
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Wednesday 27 August

23:32
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