Sociedad beats Rayo 2-0 to pull level with Real Madrid

Sports

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Led by an ageless David Silva and a striker making the most of a second chance, Real Sociedad is threatening to make it a three-way title fight in the Spanish league.

Sociedad’s 2-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in the capital on Saturday pulled it level with second-placed Real Madrid a week before they face one another. Leader Barcelona is just three points clear.

Both powerhouses have two more games to play, but the San Sebastián team, which hasn’t won the league since the 1980s, is coming on strong with nine straight wins across the league and the Copa del Rey.

Imanol Alguacil’s Sociedad faces a big week ahead. It visits Camp Nou on Wednesday to play Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals then visits the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday to face Madrid in the league.

Alguacil, however, urged his players not to look at the standings.

“That will only make us let up,” he said, considering this is round 18 of 38. “There is a long way to go. Let’s see where we are when there are only five or six rounds left.”

Silva helped to put Sociedad ahead in the 15th minute when the 37-year-old midfielder recovered the ball and slipped a pass through Rayo’s defense to meet the run of Alexander Sorloth. The Norway striker used one touch of the tip of his boot to stab the ball under goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

Sociedad doubled the lead in the 36th on a set-piece. Aritz Elustondo curled around a scrum of players to shake his marker and redirected a corner kick to the far post where Ander Barrenetxea finished it off.

While Silva is still showing the playmaking skills from his best years at Manchester City and for Spain, Sorloth is enjoying a superb season of his own. Following a ho-hum 2021-22 campaign on loan at Sociedad, Sorloth was brought back again on loan from Leipzig after Sociedad sold Alexander Isak to Newcastle for a club record haul of 70 million euros. But Sorloth was still set to be the second option until top signing Umar Sadiq sustained a serious knee injury in September.

Sorloth has responded by scoring eight times in 14 league games, including an ongoing five-round scoring streak, compared to just three goals in 32 league games last season.

Rayo tried to muster a comeback at the start of the second half, but Sociedad goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro snuffed it out when he saved a header by Florian Lejeune.

Sociedad won its third Copa del Rey in 2020. Its two Spanish league titles came in 1981 and 1982.

BETIS LOSES

Espanyol beat Real Betis 1-0 thanks to Martin Braithwaite’s goal just before halftime, denying the visitor the chance to move into fourth place and the Champions League positions.

It was a third consecutive defeat overall for Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis after it lost penalties shootouts to Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup and to Osasuna in the Copa del Rey.

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