Real Sociedad cruised to an easy 5-0 win over Espanyol on Monday, the final match of Week 23 of the 2015-16 La Liga season.
Jonathas and Carlos Vela gave the visitors a dream start by scoring two goals in the opening 10 minutes, and Mikel Oiarzabal and Diego Reyes added to their advantage early in the second half. Jonathas added a second goal late to put the final score on the board.
The win moves the Basques up to 11th place in the standings, putting some distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Here's a look at the full results from Week 11:
|Rayo Vallecano||2-0||Las Palmas|
The current La Liga standings:
|9||Deportivo La Coruna||23||6||13||4||31||28||+3||31|
Two similar goals in the opening 10 minutes ensured La Real would never be troubled at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat, with Vela playing a key role in both. First, he played a fantastic ball over the top of the Espanyol defence, allowing Jonathas to sneak in behind and lob goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.
Minutes later, he produced a similar finish, as the Espanyol defence was caught napping once again. ESPN FC's Cesar Hernandez was impressed:
Carlos Vela is on fire today. Goal and an assist in the first 10 minutes of Real Sociedad's match.— Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol) February 8, 2016
Sport's Samuel Marsden noted Real Sociedad could have used more of that earlier this season:
Carlos Vela lives! That's a great finish, just a shame it's only his fourth of the season.— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) February 8, 2016
Espanyol have been in dreadful form of late, and the Catalans reserved perhaps their worst performance of the season for Monday's outing. Real Sociedad were barely troubled during the first half, and at half-time, the home fans voiced their displeasure.
Goalkeeper Arlauskis was so poor that he was taken off at half-time, but it hardly helped matters, as Oiarzabal and Reyes added two more goals early in the second half.
Marsden couldn't believe how badly Espanyol were playing:
Espanyol absolutely shocking. If Neville's Valencia can't beat them next Saturday, then...— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) February 8, 2016
Espanyol fans looking for any reason to be optimistic were left bitterly disappointed in the second half as, even down by four goals, the hosts showed no attacking intention. Jonathas completed the embarrassing afternoon with another goal in the 90th minute, and per Marsden (via Bleacher Report UK), it resulted in some unusual chants at the Cornella-El Prat:
Following the loss, Real Sociedad's bid to survive the drop looks a bit safer, while Espanyol sit just one point ahead of the relegation zone.
It would be a shocking development to see Espanyol, a club that usually survives in the belly of the La Liga standings comfortably, drop out of the Spanish top division altogether, but with the end of the season drawing ever closer, it's becoming ever more likely.
La Liga's top clubs all managed to win in Week 25, with Real Madrid needing a late goal from Luka Modric to get past Granada, who put together an impressive showing against Los Blancos. After the match, Real manager Zinedine Zidane told reporters his team has to improve everywhere, per BBC Sport:
We are going to try to improve everything - at the back and in attack because we need to score more goals.
We had a lot of chances and we know that at this level we need to put them in in order to be a bit more relaxed in our play.
Levante also came close to a major upset, but La Liga leaders Barcelona managed to come away with a 2-0 win on Sunday, with Luis Suarez scoring a late goal to make the result safe.
Atletico Madrid made the best impression out of all the title contenders, beating Eibar 3-1, while Valencia's nightmare season continued with a 1-0 loss at Real Betis.