Real Sociedad came out on top 3-2 in a five goal cracker with Espanyol at the Anoeta on Monday night, despite finishing the game with ten men after Mikel Merino’s red card.
Merino opened the scoring before being sent off with a Willian José double seeing off the visitors, who replied through Naldo and a Diego Llorente own goal.
The hosts started on the front foot and took less than three minutes to open the scoring. Adnan Januzaj’s cross from the right was headed off the post by Willian José but Mikel Merino was on hand to fire the rebound into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later and another set piece from the former Manchester United winger caused havoc in the box with the Sociedad players claiming a hand was used by David Lopez.
Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande consulted VAR before deciding the defender had indeed handled the ball and pointed to the spot. José stepped up to take the kick and he sent Diego Lopez the wrong way from twelve yards.
After the action packed start to the match, things began to settle down a bit with both teams trying to play football but neither really creating any clear cut chances.
Just past the half hour mark though, Espanyol would get a goal back with their first effort on target. Esteban Granero’s corner was met by the head of Naldo with the ball finding its way into the top corner.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the half with Espanyol going close immediately after the board went up, Oscar Melendo firing a shot goalwards which Geronimo Rulli did well to push clear.
La Real failed to clear however and David Lopez’s cross was flicked on by Borja Iglesias to Leo Baptistao who somehow managed to only hit the bar but luckily for the forward, the ball came back off Diego Llorente who bundled it into his own net to make it 2-2 at the break.
Despite throwing away their two goal lead, it was the home side who threatened first in the second half, Merino glancing a header just past the post within a minute of the restart.
Willian José then also went close from a corner when he nodded over on 52 minutes but just after the hour, Sociedad moved back in front.
Once more, Merino was involved when he curled a wonderful ball in behind the defence to José who flicked the ball past Diego Lopez.
Espanyol began to show something in attack after that and went close when Iglesias laid off Roberto Rosales who fired a shot just past the post.
Things turned in their favour when the hosts went down to ten men. Merino upended Melendo and was shown a second yellow card and sent for an early bath.
Didac Vila was involved on a number of occasions late on as the Catalans went in search of an equaliser, going close himself when he headed a corner over from close range.
At the other end, Mikel Oyarzabal almost made an impact from the bench when he raced into the box before taking aim but his shot was kept out by Diego Lopez.
The away side came forward again immediately with Didac’s cross finding Pablo Piatti who headed off target. The full back had the last chance for Espanyol when he got the ball in the box before letting fly but his right foot shot went over the bar and the home side held on for all three points to climb to eighth in La Liga.
Real Sociedad: Rulli; Elustondo, Llorente, Moreno, Muñoz; Merino, Illarramendi; Januzaj (Zubeldia, 84), Sangalli (Lopez, 62), Juanmi (Oyarzabal, 68); Willian José
Espanyol: Diego Lopez; Rosales, David Lopez, Naldo, Didac; Darder (Piatti, 72), Roca, Granero (Puado, 78); Baptistao, Iglesias, Melendo (Alex Lopez, 84)