Real Sociedad claim point before crunch match

With Champions League football to play for, Real Sociedad battle to draw as Espanyol ease to victory against Valencia.

    Real Sociedad claim point before crunch match
    Sociedad's Swiss striker Haris Seferovic (R) and teammates face Lyon for a place in the Champions League [EPA]

    Carlos Vela scored a 75th-minute equaliser on Saturday to give Real Sociedad a 1-1 draw at Elche in Spain, keeping the Basque side undefeated before they complete a critical playoff to reach the Champions League group stage. 

    Also, Espanyol fought back to beat Valencia 3-1 at Cornella-El Prat Stadium for their first victory of the Spanish league season. 

    Elche struck two minutes in when Ferran 'Coro' Corominas tapped in a corner kick earned from the hosts' pressure that continued to cause Sociedad problems through the first half.

    Early at Martinez Valero Stadium, Sociedad appeared to be looking ahead to Wednesday when they host Lyon with a 2-0 advantage heading into their second leg with Europe's top tier club competition at stake.

    Elche went close to scoring again through headers by Alberto Botia and Manuel del Moral on either side of halftime, and were on course for their first win in the topflight for 25 years after being promoted last spring.

    But Sociedad slowly pushed Elche onto their back foot, and Vela was left unmarked to volley in Xabi Prieto's cross for his second goal in as many league games.

    The Mexico forward nearly took the full three points for Sociedad with a curling strike from outside the area that clipped the bar two minutes from time.

    Comfortable win

    Espanyol created three clear scoring opportunities before Valencia's Helder Postiga snatched the 10th-minute opener.

    The goal, however, didn't change the flow of the match, and Espanyol defender David Lopez headed in Simao Sabrosa's corner kick in the 31st. 

    Christian Stuani headed Espanyol in front two minutes after the break, jumping and redirecting a free kick by Juan Fuentes off the post and into the net.

    Forward Thievy Bifouma sealed the result in the 89th with his second goal in two games coming off Espanyol's bench after an excellent dribble and assist by Manuel Lanzarote.

    Later, Villarreal host Valladolid looking for a second straight win in their return to the first division.

    On Friday, Athletic Bilbao beat Osasuna 2-0, while Getafe drew 2-2 at home with Almeria.

    Barcelona visit Malaga on Sunday with Lionel Messi unavailable after injuring his leg midweek in a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Also, Atletico face Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla travel to Levante, and Real Betis play Celta. 

    Real Madrid visit Granada on Monday.



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