An injury-time penalty from Alexander Isak erased his frustration of failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup during the international break, and saw Real Sociedad overcome a stubborn Espanyol side, who are now 14 La Liga away games without a clean sheet.
Prior to this clash in the Basque heartland, October 2021 was the last time Espanyol had strung back-to-back La Liga wins together, but the Catalans had the chance to do just that at the Reale Arena this evening. Still high on confidence after dispatching Mallorca 1-0 before the international break, Espanyol set about finding an opener from the get-go, and came tantalisingly close to doing so when Leandro Cabrera headed inches wide from Adri Embarba’s delivery.
It was this scare that reminded Real Sociedad they were chasing a first UEFA Champions League appearance since 2013/14, and the home side grew into the game as the first half progressed. They ought to have taken the lead through David Silva, but Oier Olazábal was equal to his fierce drive, ensuring the scores stood level at the break.
Sociedad did have the ball in the net just minutes into the second half, as Alexander Sørloth bundled the ball over the line from close range, but the Norwegian was adjudged to have fouled Cabrera in the build up, and after a brief consultation with VAR, Santiago Jaime Latre chalked off the goal. Even so, the home side’s pressure was becoming relentless, and when Diego Rico delivered an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Rafinha with 20 minutes to go, it seemed for all the world as though the Brazilian would glance home, but his effort drifted wide of the target.
There was yet to be one more twist in the tale in stoppage time, when Fernando Calero felled Mikel Merino in the area and handed Swedish international Alexander Isak the chance to snatch all three points for Sociedad from the spot. He accepted his task with open arms, slamming home past Oier to boost his club’s chances of rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite next season.