Eibar's remarkable journey takes them to the edge of Europe | Sid Lowe

Even if Eibar don’t make it into Europe – and, no, they probably still won’t – the fact that there is a chance of them getting there is something

José Luis Mendilibar didn’t see the moment his team drew level with Real Sociedad and took a step closer to a place they’ve never been before. Eibar’s manager had long since left the bench having been sent off for doing what he does – shouting at one of his players – and as the final minute slipped away so did he, leaving his place in the stand too. He was heading to the dressing room, defeated, when he heard a noise. He knew something had happened but didn’t know what. When he got there, they told him. Out in the rain at Anoeta, Pedro León, his Pedro León, had scored, the ball squirming through Gero Rulli’s hands. It was the 93rd minute and they had done it somehow: in Guipúzcoan weather, the Guipúzcoan derby finished 2-2.

In the dressing room, Mendilibar celebrated; on the pitch, so did his players. There was no time for more, but there was time for León to pause as he departed. On the touchline, he apologised for the “effusiveness” of the celebration. “It’s the pressure,” he said. The importance, too. This wasn’t just the Guipúzcoa derby – one of three Basque provinces, population 707,298 – it was, headlines said, the “Euro derby” too. Fifth versus seventh, an opportunity for the season’s revelations to reach unexpected places: the Champions League for Real Sociedad, the Europa League for Eibar. Exhausted, eventually Eibar equalised, drawing level with sixth-placed Villarreal, while la Real reached fourth-placed Atlético Madrid. “Happy news,” Mendilibar called it.

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Source: Football News
Link : Eibar’s remarkable journey takes them to the edge of Europe | Sid Lowe

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