Vela’s late strike seals La Real’s Europa League place

A surprise early goal from loanee Jhon Cordoba was rectified in this encounter with Canales scoring from a deflected cross and Vela nicking the win in stoppage time with a tantalising solo run. 

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No surprises as La Real started as the better side: Three corners in four minutes and two blocked efforts from Vela and Pardo had the visitors on top within the early stages of the matches.

Ruben Pardo’s then next influential touch came in the shape of an indirect free-kick. Whipped in towards the back-post met by the foot of Mikel Gonzalez who guided the ball past Kiko only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside. Controversial call as Mikel Gonzalez wasn’t in an offside position however, it may have taken the faintest of touches of Agirretxe who was offside. Nevertheless, Real Sociedad continued to control.

Surprisingly though, it was Espanyol who opened the scoring. A tussle between Cordoba, who is likened to Didier Drogba, and Mikel Gonzalez was won by the Colombian who turned the defender, moved the ball onto his right foot and finished exceptionally. The 20-year-old has been crying out for first team appearances and netting on this one certainly warrants the case he was asserting.

The hosts tried to hit back immediately after conceding. Chory Castro sent a low ball into the box, Vela help up the ball before distributing it into the path of Agirretxe who’s strike was pushed out for a corner at the near post.

A flurry of corners later and La Real tried another method. Pardo laid it short to Sergio Canales who’s cross took a wicked deflection and beat Kiko at the near post. Fortunate indeed, but acceptable after being denied a goal that should’ve stood.

Real Sociedad thereafter almost went in front for the first time. Quick, one-touch, fluid football found Carlos Vela down the right who’s driven cross found it’s way to Canales at the backpost but somehow his slide, which was destined for the goal, was blocked by Ruben Pardo incredibly before Agirretxe’s volley was phenomenally stopped by Kiko. Arrasate’s men were playing dazzling football but couldn’t find a goal to put them 2-1 ahead.

The visitors attempted to provide an attacking threat but what they did offer was toothless and uncoordinated. Their lack of chances still had them drawing at half-time, mind, with Real Sociedad’s dominance not being rewarded in the scoreline.

HT: Sociedad 1-1 Espanyol

The second half saw the match open up. La Real and the Periquitos threw more men into attack in the early stages, but it was both defences that were coming out on top by restricting the other team to shots from distance.

The fire power the hosts possessed, which seemed so potent in the first half, deteriorated in the second with a lack of chances created. Espanyol stayed structured, seemingly happy for a draw by the 70th minute.

The main concern for Aguirre and his management staff was the loss of Jhon Cordoba, who left the field on a stretcher. With that, came the end of the visitors threatening Real Sociedad.

Colotto could’ve won the game in the closing stages when his free header was goal bound, but a lack of power made the save easy for Bravo.

From the kick-out though came the winning goal. Vela with sublime chest control, dribbles superbly around the chasing Espanyol defenders before finishing calmly in the 90th minute to steal all 3 points.

Real Sociedad 2-1 RCD Espanyol

Goals: (Canales 32′, Vela 90’///Cordoba 23′)

Valencia: Bravo, Mikel, M. Bergara, Agirretxe (75′) , Carlos V, R. Pardo, Ansotegi, Canales (83′), Chory Castro (75′), De la Bella, Zaldúa.

Subs: Seferovic (75′), Hervias (75′) Zurutuza (83′)

Espanyol: Kiko, Víctor S., Sidnei, Stuani, Sergio, M. Lanza, David López, Javi López (84′), Fuentes, Colotto, Córdoba (77′).

Subs: Pizzi (77′), Raul R (84′)

By Cain

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