Real Madrid’s brief two-match winless streak came to a halt with a 3-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday night at Anoeta.
Borja Mayoral scored a goal and forced an own goal, while Gareth Bale overcame a quiet start to tally Real’s third of the night in what was a yet another hard-fought affair between these two sides in San Sebastian.
Some history was also made along the way, as Real scored in their 73rd straight match, equaling the record held by Brazilian side Santos led by the legendary Pele.
With both Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo suspended and Karim Benzema injured, manager Zinedine Zidane had to shuffle his starting XI, as Theo got as rare start at right-back in place of Marcelo and Mayoral and Marco Asensio were up front in attack for Ronaldo and Benzema.
Mayoral was keen to make the most of his chance and he gave Real a 1-0 lead 20 minutes in thanks to some hold-up play from Sergio Ramos. The centre-back received a pass deep in the area with his back to goal, almost like a post-up forward in basketball, and tipped a ball back for the charging Mayoral to fire into goal.
But Real Sociedad have a habit of making life very difficult for Spain’s big two in Anoeta, and Los Blancos were given a stern reminder of that moments before the half-hour mark when Kevin Rodrigues’ volley off an Alvaro Odriozola cross fooled Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas and bounced in to level the score 1-1
Minutes later Real Sociedad were inches away from pulling off the same trick. Odriozola crossed for Rodrigues at the far post, but this time the Portuguese’s effort bounced off the crossbar. Real then broke the other way, and an ill-timed challenge from Diego Llorente allowed Mayoral to go in on goal. After eluding Aritz Elustondo, Mayoral crossed for Asensio, only to see Rodrigues redirect the ball into his own net to gift a 2-1 lead to the visitors.
The match was even more intense after the re-start, and Anoeta howled for a penalty when Theo looked to have brought down Xabi Prieto in the area, however referee Iglesias Villanueva thought otherwise. At the other end Mayoral could have given Real a two-goal lead, but missed just wide at the near post.
Real Sociedad’s quest for an equaliser meant they left themselves considerably vulnerable in the back, and teams can only take that gamble for so long before Real’s superstars will make you pay. For Eusebio’s men it reared its head on the hour mark, as an Isco pass hoofed upfield was run onto by Bale, who then poked a shot past Rulli for a 3-1 advantage.
With the two-goal cushion, the match was to Real’s liking. Zidane’s men were happy to stay back and absorb a bit of pressure, knowing that opportunities would come on the counter.
Still, Real Sociedad did not go away and David Zurutuza and Carlos Vela each had good looks at goal but were unable to find the target. In the end, though, Real managed to finish things off with no problems to pocket their first league win since week one.
Real resume action on Wednesday at home against Betis.
1.- Real Sociedad: Rulli; Odriozola, Aritz Elustondo, Llorente, Kevin; Xabi Prieto (Juanmi, min. 69), Illarramendi, Zurutuza; Januzaj (Agirretxe, min. 77), Willian Jose, Canales (Vela, min. 57).
3.- Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Theo (Nacho, min. 93); Casemiro, Modric, Isco; Mayoral (Lucas Vazquez, min. 75), Asensio (Dani Ceballos, min. 86), Bale
Goals: 0-1, min. 19: Mayoral; 1-1, min. 29: Kevin; 1-2, min. 36: Kevin (og); 1-3, min. 61: Bale.
Referee: Iglesias Villanueva (Galicia).
Yellow cards: Llorente (Min. 39) for Real Sociedad; Asensio (Min. 39) for Real Madrid, Illarramendi (Min. 42) for Real Sociedad, Januzaj (Min. 45+1) for Real Sociedad, Casemiro (Min. 64) for Real Madrid.
Red cards: None.