Vela’s injury-time goal snatches win for Sociedad
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Carlos Vela skillfully chested down a long pass before firing in Real Sociedad’s injury-time winner to snatch a dramatic 2-1 win at home over Espanyol in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Vela’s 13th goal in league play allowed Sociedad to rise into provisional sixth place, and moved the Basque club closer to clinching a Europa League berth.
“This victory ... almost books our place in Europe” Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate said. “Vela wasn’t having his best day, but that doesn’t bother him and he is able to score a goal like he did. He is a player that makes the difference.”
Sociedad hemmed Espanyol into its area from the start, pushing the action into its final third of the pitch.
But Espanyol striker Jhon Cordoba’s solo effort put the visitors ahead at Anoeta Stadium in the 26th minute, when he quickly spun around Mikel Gonzalez before slotting the ball past goalie Claudio Bravo.
Sergio Canales leveled in the 32nd when his cross took a deflection off the back of Espanyol’s Manuel Lanzarote, catching goalie Kiko Casilla wrong-footed.
The match looked destined to end in a draw until Vela used a deft touch to control a lobbed pass and slip the ball by defender Juan Fuentes before firing in the late winner.
Also, Valencia forward Jonas went on in the second half and scored to secure a 1-1 draw at Osasuna, while Getafe stayed in the drop zone after a 0-0 draw at Levante.
Valencia can focus on preparing for its visit to Sevilla on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League semifinal.
Striker Oriol Riera put Osasuna ahead in the 19th when he tapped in a rebound that Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita knocked down to his feet for his 12th league goal.
Host Osasuna controlled the match with Roberto Torres hitting the upright in the 53rd, until Jonas took a pass from fellow Brazilian substitute Araujo on the run and slotted an angled shot inside the far post in the 82nd.
“The draw is fair,” Valencia coach Juan Pizzi said. “They thought that they could defend well and it would be difficult for us to score, but we did so at the end.”
The draw left Valencia in eighth place and seven points off the final Europa League berth, while Osasuna stayed three points from the relegation zone.
Getafe finished at Levante with 10 men following Alexis Ruano’s second yellow card in the 81st minute of a foul-filled match.
Getafe remained among the bottom three sides along with Almeria and Real Betis. Levante stayed in the middle of the standings.
Atletico Madrid beat Elche 2-0 on Friday to provisionally extend its league lead to six points over Real Madrid, which won’t play its game from this round against Valladolid until May 7.
Barcelona trails Atletico by seven points before hosting Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.