Barcelona, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- FC Barcelona eked out a 2-1 victory here Wednesday over LaLiga leaders Real Sociedad to move within 6 points of the top.
The Blaugrana showed their mettle by coming from behind, yet they needed an impressive double stop by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the final stretch to see out the match.
A second straight win at Camp Nou lifted Barça to fifth place with 20 points, 6 fewer than Sociedad, Real Madrid and leaders Atletico Madrid, who are now first by virtue of better goal difference.
Jordi Alba was the standout performer for the hosts, scoring one goal and assisting on the second.
Though Barcelona have shined in the Champions League under new manager Ronald Koeman, the squad have struggled to find their rhythm in domestic play.
But for the opening hour of Wednesday’s game, Koeman’s men functioned with the precision of a fine watch, as Frenkie de Jong and Pedri achieved a good facsimile of Barcelona’s traditional dominance in midfield.
And the back line, featuring youngsters Oscar Mingueza and Ronald Araujo, turned in a solid performance.
Barça set the pace in the early going, penning Sociedad in their own end, and the game’s first shot came in the 8th minute from Antoine Griezmann.
Lionel Messi had plenty of time and space to create, but he fired over the cross-bar on a chance in the 23rd minute and Alba missed the mark two minutes later.
It was a different story for Sociedad, who turned their first opportunity into a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute.
Pedri’s poor marking on a corner allowed Portu to send the ball across the goal for Willian Jose to tap in.
Instead of folding, as they have done under the same circumstances on previous occasions, Barça came roaring back to equalize in the 31st minute courtesy of Alba, who beat Sociedad keeper Alex Remiro with a strike into the top corner.
Griezmann hit the cross-bar in the 37th minute and Martin Braithwaite was off-target a minute later.
With two minutes left in first-half regulation, Alba sent a cross into the box where De Jong was waiting to hammer home.
The goal was initially disallowed for offside, but a VAR review confirmed the attacking players were onside and Barcelona surged ahead 2-1.
Sociedad seized the initiative in the second half, though the Blaugrana continued to have the better chances.
Messi faltered on a promising counter, while Griezmann wasted one opportunity and was denied by Remiro on another.
Sociedad pressed hard in the final 15 minutes and Ter Stegen needed to be sharp in the 84th minute to stop Jose’s strike from the edge of the box and turn aside Alexander Isak’s try on the rebound.