Sports Desk, Oct 16 (EFE).- Aside from Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Barcelona in their “Clasico” matchup at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Sunday, in other La Liga action Real Sociedad downed Celta Vigo on the road 2-1, Betis drubbed Almeria 3-1 and got back into Champions League contention and Espanyol downed Valladolid 1-0 on a minute 78 tally by Joselu.
Illarra got Real Sociedad on the board first in the 30th minute at Abanca Balaidos stadium, but just eight minutes later Iago Aspas evened things up. Then, in minute 54 Zubeldia scored what would become the game-winning tally and the visitors fended off the home team’s drive to salvage at least a draw from the looming – and ultimately suffered – defeat.
With the win, Real Sociedad jumped over Athletic Club in the La Liga table, notching its seventh consecutive win in league and Europa League play, exploiting their rivals’ defensive weakness.
A whopping eight minutes of stoppage time was added to first-half play due to frequent interruptions of the foul-filled match, which was a tactical battle right from the start, with Celta putting the pressure on the visitors to nullify their more creative players, and that tactic worked quite well despite the fact that Real found the net first.
A bad clearance by Gabri Veiga landed the ball at the feet of Real’s team captain at the edge of the area, whereupon Illarra fired a left-footed shot into the net beyond the reach of goaltender Agustin Marchesin.
The tying tally came after a tremendous error by Zubimendi when he virtually handed the ball to Iago Aspas at the edge of the area and the striker wasted no time in sending it past Remiro.
Zubeldia’s goal came after a corner kick that Merino forced with a crossing shot that Marchesin deflected, with Brais Mendez executing a corner that the Basque center-back, unopposed, got into the net against a defensively unbalanced Celta.
Celta continued to attack, fielding three strikers – Aspas, Larsen and Paciencia, the latter of whom was sent off late in play on a red card – but Real Sociedad hung on for the well-deserved win.
In other action, Betis downed Almeria, landing their fifth win in five La Liga matches at Benito Villamarin stadium with two tallies by William Carvalho in the 23rd and 71st minutes, along with another one by Borja Iglesias in the 66th minute.
Meanwhile, El Bilal had tied things up in minute 52, but – although the teams had started out rather equally matched in their ball handling – Betis dominated play after Carvalho scored the first goal.
Betis is high up in the table, while Almeria is in the basement, but they both came into the match with clear goals: the former to regain its potential berth in the Champions League competition and the latter to get out of the relegation zone.
Carvalho’s first goal came after he took advantage of a good centering pass from Alex Moreno to beat Fernando Martinez in the Almeria net. Betis persisted in its attacks after the break but El Bilal Toure made it 1-1 on a powerful crossing shot-on-goal.
Iglesias was on hand for the 2-1 on another great crossing shot in the 66th minute, and – although Almeria never gave up they were never able to react with whatever it would have taken to get control of the match.
Finally, Carvalho took a magnificent pass from Iglesias from outside the area and with a clear defensive failure by Almeria, scored the third goal for the home squad.