Madrid, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- Vinicius Junior scored a goal in the waning minutes to salvage a 1-1 draw for Real Madrid against Real Sociedad here Monday night and help extend the Blancos’ unbeaten streak in LaLiga to five matches.
Zinedine Zidane’s men were superior in the first half of this behind-closed-doors, Matchday 25 contest at Alfredo di Stefano stadium, and that led to several decent chances to score.
The best of the lot came in the 22nd minute when a delicate chipped pass toward the far post by Lucas Vazquez found Mariano, but the Spanish-Dominican striker’s leaping header somehow clanked off the crossbar at point-blank range.
The play continued with a chance for Marco Asensio, although his low, left-footed shot went just wide of the near post.
More opportunities ensued, with Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois making a save on a shot by Real Sociedad’s Andoni Gorosabel and visiting net minder Alex Remiro keeping out a potent long-range attempt by Luka Modric in minute 43.
At the start of the second half Zidane made the questionable decision to move Casemiro over as a third central defender, a strategy intended to allow more room for Vazquez and Ferland Mendy to operate on the wings.
Instead, it backfired when diminutive midfielder Portu received a pass from Nacho Monreal and launched a long-range header that hit both the far post and the crossbar before entering the goal in the 55th minute.
Portu managed to head the ball as Mendy was scrambling to get back and break up the play.
Then just moments after the opening goal, Real Sociedad nearly added to their lead on a play in which Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane did well to deny Alexander Isak.
Zidane looked to provide a spark by inserting Vincius Junior, Rodrygo and Hugo Duro at the one-hour mark, but Real Madrid continued to lack precision in the final third as chances by Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Duro all went by the wayside.
Finally, Real Madrid’s repeated crosses from the wings paid off when a pass from Vazquez found Vinicius in the area and the Brazilian was able to score off a defender’s arm in the 89th minute.
Real Madrid then had a chance to pull out the victory on a header by Duro of a cross by Spanish defender Nacho one minute into second-half stoppage time, but his attempt was deflected over the crossbar.
“I think we dominated the match. It’s a shame that we had three or four scoring opportunities in the first half … and in the second half we also had numerous chances,” Zidane rued afterward, adding that he was happy otherwise with how his team played.
Although the result was not what the Real Madrid fans (watching from home) were hoping for, their third-place team (53 points) still will have a golden chance to move within two points of league-leading Atletico Madrid (58 points) when the crosstown rivals clash on Sunday in Matchday 26 action at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. EFE-EPA