Real Sociedad controlled much of the contest against visiting side Real Madrid, but only managed a 3-3 draw after a match-tying goal off the foot of Xabi Prieto in the final minute of added time. It was a thrilling match the home side should have won, but both clubs deserve a lot of credit for their perseverance and high level of play.
Madrid didn’t waste much time getting on the board in the contest. After a Mikel Gonzalez turnover in Sociedad’s defensive end, Gonzalo Higuain slotted a tremendous attempt to give the visiting side an early 1-0 advantage in the sixth minute—his 15th La Liga goal this year (via Real Madrid CF):
Sociedad struggled to contain an early Los Blancos attack that featured plenty of aggression, but it wouldn’t last long. The home side began turning the screws in the final third, committing a lot of men forward to keep Madrid on their heels. Despite Los Blancos’ early goal, Sociedad seemed in control for much of the first half.
Unfortunately for the home side, Diego Lopez was terrific in staving off a relentless Sociedad attack. He made a few nice saves to maintain Madrid’s 1-0 advantage, and combatted an attack that fired 14 shots (five on target) in the first half of play (via Arsenal’s Philosophy):
HT Real Sociedad 0-1 Real Madrid, Higuian. It's been all Sociedad with Diego Lopez making 3-4 top saves.— Arsenal's Philosophy (@ProudGoonerAFC) May 26, 2013
Los Blancos had to be pleased with a one-goal advantage heading into halftime. As well as Sociedad played for most of the first half, things could have been much, much worse. As Simon Harrison of Goal.com noted on Twitter, the home side weren’t without opportunities to tie the match:
Ridiculous that Real Sociedad are still trailing to Real Madrid at half time. Griezmann has had several great chances, Madrid have had one.— Simon Harrison (@simonhfootball) May 26, 2013
Given the first-half disparity in possession and shots, Madrid couldn’t have felt comfortable with their slim lead:
|Real Madrid||Real Sociedad|
But Los Blancos came out looking like a new squad in the second frame, turning the screws on the home side early and often. They didn’t have an early second-half goal to show for it, but Madrid did well to alleviate the pressure they were exposed to in the first half.
Likewise, Sociedad looked nothing like they did in the first 45 minutes. Sloppy play and unforced errors gave Madrid plenty of opportunities, setting the stage for what could have been a Los Blancos blowout in the second half if not for some crafty work in net from Claudio Bravo.
That crafty play wouldn’t continue, however.
In the 57th minute, Madrid got the boost they needed to break the match wide open. Jose Callejon took advantage of a Kaka cross to the tune of a tap-in goal behind Bravo to give Los Blancos a 2-0 advantage—the forward’s first goal in 20 matches (via Real Madrid Info):
GOAL CALLEJON! His first goal in 20 matches!— Real Madrid Info (@RmadridInfo) May 26, 2013
It was an excellent lead from Kaka, and the kind of crisp play Madrid failed to produce in the first half. But with the score at 2-0 and the visiting side clearly in control, it would be an uphill battle for Sociedad to recover.
At least it appeared that way.
In the 64th minute, the home side got one back in the form of a penalty kick off the foot of Xabi Prieto. At a time Sociedad desperately needed to sneak one by Lopez, it was the 29-year-old midfielder who took it upon himself to do the deed (via AS.com):
Xabi Prieto rifles in the spot-kick low into the corner. Unstoppable. Real Sociedad 1 - Real Madrid 2— AS English (@English_AS) May 26, 2013
Prieto’s goal seemingly swung the momentum in Sociedad’s favor. After a slow start to the second half, the home side displayed much more intensity following the midfielder’s goal and turned the pressure back on Los Blancos’ back line.
As Jack Rathborn noted on Twitter, Sociedad’s performance should have been enough to have a commanding lead over the visiting side:
How on earth are Real Sociedad losing this game? Completely outplayed Real Madrid.— Jack Rathborn (@jackrathborn) May 26, 2013
A lot of credit is due to Lopez, who was magnificent in goal for Los Blancos. Madrid’s defense was worn thin by a lack of aggression at the other end of the pitch, and the keeper was the biggest factor in neutralizing that pressure.
He wasn’t perfect, however.
In the 78th minute, Sociedad got their equalizer from Antoine Griezmann from close range after a tremendous cross. The match appeared to be within reach for the home side, with the score knotted up at 2-2.
And yet again, Madrid answered the call, this time off the foot of Sami Khedira (via TNC La Liga):
Gol gol gol. Real Sociedad 2-3 Real Madrid. Heartbreak for Sociedad. Khedira scores, and surely ends the CL hopes?— TNC La Liga (@TNC_LaLiga) May 26, 2013
Sociedad would get another good opportunity in the 84th minute with a hard header from Prieto, but Lopez once again made a terrific save to keep his club in the lead.
With time running out, it looked like Sociedad’s efforts would go to waste in a 3-2 home defeat. The first two minutes of added time yielded no results, and the home side was down to their final opportunity.
Again, it was Prieto who answered the call (via Football World):
GOAL!!!!!!!!! Xabi Prieto levels it again in injury time...Real Sociedad 3 - Real Madrid 3— Football World (@ffootballworld) May 26, 2013
In a match that saw Sociedad control most of the action and Lopez stave off a tremendous attack, it was only fitting that the two sides would end in a draw. The last minutes certainly didn’t lack excitement, and at the very least, each club should be happy with the way it battled from start to finish.
Real Sociedad Grades
|Alberto De la Bella||B|
|Markel Bergara (59')||B|
|Asier Illarramendi (81')||D|
|Gonzalo Castro (70')||B|
Real Madrid Grades
|Jose Callejon (70')||A|
|Angel Di Maria||C|
Diego Lopez (B+)
Allowing three goals doesn’t usually warrant a high grade, but Diego Lopez was phenomenal against Real Sociedad on Sunday. Madrid’s defense struggled to contain the home side’s attack, and Lopez did everything asked of him in giving his squad a chance to win.
Prieto’s last-minute goal had to have stung considering how hard he battled in net all match. It may not have shown on the stat sheet, but the Los Blancos keeper was absolutely terrific in the 3-3 draw.
Xabi Prieto (A+)
As hard as Sociedad battled, they never would have stood a chance without the clutch performance of Xabi Prieto.
Momentum plays a big role in the outcome of a match, and Prieto’s initial goal was enough to give new life to his club.
And of course, nailing home the game-tying goal doesn’t hurt matters, either. Against a keeper playing a tremendous match, it took an equally impressive performance to boost Sociedad to a draw. They got that from Prieto.
Sami Khedira (A)
It looked like Khedira had won the match for Los Blancos in the closing minutes, but he can’t be faulted for his efforts in the 3-3 draw. His go-ahead goal nearly put away the home side in a match they should have won.
While Khedira’s play was somewhat inconsistent throughout (and included a yellow card and costly penalty), opportunities like his late scoring strike don’t come around that often. He took advantage and nearly netted the winner for Madrid.
Claudio Bravo (C+)
Claudio Bravo wasn’t as bad as his three allowed goals would indicate, but he wasn’t as stout as he could have been against a Madrid attack that failed to get much going through 50-plus minutes.
Still, Bravo made some terrific saves in the match and did enough to keep his club in contention. If not for Lopez’s superior performance, the Sociedad keeper could have been the hero in his team’s miraculous comeback.