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Deportivo La Coruña
5 April 2014
• Estadio Municipal de Anoeta, Donostia-San Sebastián
Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández
• Attendance: 30016
G. Bale 66'
Álvaro Morata 88'
Shots on Target
That's all from me folks, see you next time.
Professional job this from Madrid. The pressure was on them to match the winning results of Atletico and Barcelona earlier in the day, but after some early struggled, they end up winning quite comfortably. They move back to within three points of league leaders Atletico, and only two behind Barca. Sociedad miss a chance to close up the gap on Bilbao for fourth place.
90' + 3'
Full time here.
90' + 2'
Still time for one last Madrid chance to ring up their fifth, as Di MAria takes aim from a long way out. He makes good contact on the ball, but Bravo, who has made some errors tonight, reads that one well to push it away from goal. That may just about do it.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Daniel Carvajal
Three minutes of added time signaled to end this game. Carvajal ensures that it's not an incident free conclusion though, as he gets booked for a blatant handball.
Assist Ángel Di María
Well then, two of the substitutes combine to bring up another Madrid goal! Di Maria was the architect, laying in a magnificent through pass for Morata to zoom onto, and the young forward has the time and space to pick out his spot in the bottom corner.
MORATA ADDS A FOURTH!
Ancelotti is not done though, making his third and final change, with Casemiro making way for Alonso. The former Sociedad midfielder enjoyed a comfortable outing in his one time stomping grounds.
And with that last killer blow, Ancelotti hauls off Bale for Morata. Job done for the Welshman, whose goal earlier in this half really killed off any chance of a Sociedad comeback. He'll definitely have his knee looked at though, after struggling with it for a period.
Assist Sergio Ramos
Well that's just gravy as far as Madrid are concerned! It's the Madrid defensive duo collaborating at the other end of the pitch, as from a corner, Ramos flicks the ball towards his Portuguese partner, who executes a fine first time finish to bring up the third!
PEPE ADDS A THIRD!
For a second there, Griezmann had an opening on goal after Carvajal's terrible clearance fell to him in a favorable position by the box, but the Madrid right back makes amends for his error, cleaning up his own mess by blocking the Frenchman's shot.
Finally, Ancelotti makes a change. Isco goes off and on comes Di Maria. I thought that the Italian coach would reach into his pack to bring on the Argentine much sooner, but as the passage of play has proved, Madrid did just fine without him in the end.
Ángel Di María
Real Madrid's next three league games are all against relegation threatened teams. They face Almeria, Valladolid and Osasuna, and no doubt they need to pick up the full complement of points on offer if they are to keep pace with Atletico and Barca at the top of the table.
Carlos Vela profits from an awkward deflection off Nacho, and is able to drive forward down the right byeline with the defender out of the picture, both literally and figuratively. He pings a ball in towards the near post, but Ramos stretches well to block the cross, and the chance goes.
There's a third goal in this if Madrid are so inclined, as they are in complete control of the flow of this game, with time ebbing away. The gaps in the offensive third, which were so rare in the first half, are commonplace now on almost every Madrid attack.
Final change of the game for Sociedad, as Gonzalez departs for Pardo, in a substitution that will probably do little to affect the result at this point. Interestingly, Arrasate has thrown all his cards on the table, while Ancelotti, with all three subs still available, is yet to reach into his deck.
Mikel González Martínez
Madrid have two chances in two minutes to add the icing on the cake. Ansotegi is forced to make a last ditch block to thwart Isco's curler from the top of the D, before Carvajal just gets his angles wrong on a great opening down the left, where he had bodies to pick out in the box.
Bergara becomes the latest Sociedad player to get his name taken be the referee, and it's about time! He's been nibbling at ankles all game, and a tug on the shirt of Bale in front of an outraged Madrid bench was just about the final straw for the match official.
Yellow Card Markel Bergara
The crowd are doing their best to get a lift from their side on the pitch, but even they have something of a deflated tone in their voice. It's a pity for them that their side could not match their intensity of the opening 25 minutes. Since then, Madrid have been in control of this game.
You have to give credit to Madrid and Ancelotti for their second half display. They looked more purposeful and capable of danger since the resumption of the game. And after hitting the crossbar twice, the writing was probably on the wall for Sociedad. Bale's goal has all but ended their hopes of getting something from this.
Goal Gareth Bale
Bet that knee's feeling ok now! Another poor decision from Bravo has gifted Madrid another goal, but credit must go to Bale for his opportunism and accuracy. The keeper's poor kick was seized by the Welshman some 30 yards out, and he arrowed a now effort into the corner as Bravo failed to recover his position in time.
BALE SCORES AND PROBABLY WRAPS IT UP!
CROSSBAR AGAIN! That was quite some strike from Benzema, what a rocket! He turns into an inch of shooting space on the left side of the box, and hammers a left footer towards the far corner, but it rebounds off the frame of the goal! Again, what a hit!
This is a single minded swap for Sociedad, as Agirretxe will take up the central striking role, flanked either side by Griezmann and Vela, both of whom have rather gone quiet. Meanwhile, Bale has been moving a little gingerly since that challenge.
Bale has been given the all clear by the officials to return to action from the sidelines, and Sociedad use that opportunity to make a substitution, their second of the game. Off goes the ineffective Zurutuza, and on comes Agirretxe, in an attacking move from the hosts.
After a slight delay where the physios ensure that Bale is okay, Alonso takes charge of the free kick, but fails to test Bravo this time, curling it too far of the top corner. Not bad, but could be better.
Now then, Bale has taken an almighty blow to the knee right on the edge of the Sociedad box. Bergara somehow survives another contentious incident without getting booked, as he really caught the Welsh winger strongly there. Madrid have another dangerous free kick.
Just about an hour has passed in this game, and in Madrid are looking pretty comfortable with this one goal advantage. Sociedad haven't looked an attacking threat since about the 20th minute, and they have some work to do if they're going to get back in this game.
WHICH HE DOES! He clips a ball with slight swerve towards the far post, but Bravo reads it and dives to his left to push it away. It's a save that you would expect the keeper to make nine times out of 10 though. And unlike the events of the Illarramendi goal, he pushes it away from danger this time.
Another booking for Sociedad as Martinez gets carded for a clumsy tackle on Benzema. Now then, Madrid have a free kick in a promising position, and after Bale's disappointing effort in the first half, up steps Alonso to have a go at testing Bravo...
Yellow Card Íñigo Martínez
WHACK! Bale fools Martinez on the left with a feint, and cuts in onto his right foot. He smashes a shot towards goal, but Ansotegi, the first half substitute, is there to block, and takes it full in the face with a resounding thud. He doesn't flinch or pull up in the aftermath though.
Half chance there for los Blancos, as Bale's downward header is inches away from contact by Benzema at the far post. Still not a whole lot of intensity in the play on the pitch from either side. But with Madrid in a one goal lead, it will suit them just fine for the moment.
Slowly Sociedad start to rediscover their mojo in the attacking third, as Martinez cracks a first timer on goal from about 25 to 30 yards out, but Lopez anticipates the effort as soon as it was stuck, and saves with ease.
Clever try there from Sociedad on a free kick. Canales takes charge of the ball and clips it towards the top of the box. Gonzalez gets a good flick on it, and Martinez is arriving at the far post for the finish, but he can't beat Lopez to the ball. Still, that was a good training ground move!
Another obvious booking that marks an easy decision for the referee. Illarramendi tried to defend against Vela, but seeing that the former Arsenal man had the step on him, he reaches out an arm and tugs his shirt back. Naughty boy.
Yellow Card Asier Illarramendi
CROSSBAR! Gonzalez is nearly punished for that foul on Carvajal, as from the resulting free kick, Ramos rises highest to power a splendid header goalwards, only to see it thwack right off the woodwork, which is probably still shaking! Bravo didn't move!
Carvajal attempts to turn Gonzalez, but is halted by a late, dangerous lunge from the Sociedad centre back, who left his position to double team the Madrid full back. Deserved booking there.
Yellow Card Mikel González Martínez
A good omen for the visitors is that in the 17 league games that they've been ahead at half time this campaign, they've gone on to win every single one of them. Surprisingly, Ancelotti elects not to make any changes to his side at the break. The current scoreline certainly flatters them, as they've struggled mightily to create chances.
Here we go again.
Real Madrid have been decidedly out of sorts in the first half, but with their first and second shots on target, they manage to take the lead on the stroke of half time. It's a little tough on Sociedad, who have defended diligently and fashioned the best scoring chances. The match is still finely poised for the second half though, and no doubt that there will be more twists and turns. Stay tuned.
45' + 1'
Goal Asier Illarramendi
Had to be him, didn't it! A pointed refusal to celebrate from the midfielder against his former club, but no doubt that he's buzzing inside at a CRUCIAL goal for his side! Benzema did most of the hard work, cutting in from the left and working Bravo with a shot, but Illarramendi stuck out his right peg to divert the rebound into the back of the net!
Half a chance there for Sociedad, as a free kick is not properly cleared by Madrid, and Vela is given the chance to snap a shot on goal, but Illaramendi blocks. The fact that this chance registered as the first shot on target rather tells you all you need to know about the disappointing direction that this game is taking.
Di Maria's been struggling with a stomach bug, but with Ronaldo and Jese unavailable, I'm dead certain that we'll see the Argentine at some point. As expected, it's a little to easy for Sociedad to gang up on Bale, without a similarly direct threat to worry them on the opposite flank. Di Maria could provide that impetus they so badly need.
Xabi Alonso picks up the first yellow card of the game. There was a loose ball at the top of the box that he tried to attack, but Vela got there first, and Alonso failed to stop in time before barging the Mexican over. Replays suggest that Vela turned his back in anticipation of the contact, so a yellow seems a tad harsh.
Yellow Card Xabi Alonso
Finally, a moment of penetration from the visitors, as Bale gets free down the left hand channel thanks to a sublime pass. However, his urgency to get a cross in is not matched by his teammates' desire to attack it in the box, and Sociedad clear the delivery without too much trouble.
Half time's closing in here, and to be honest, not a lot is happening on the pitch at the moment. Sociedad continue to defend well, but they've rather abandoned their attacking intent in the last quarter of an hour or so. That has seen play rather drag on.
Bale and Isco have swapped flanks once again, with the Welshman attacking from the right and the Spaniard from the left. Madrid still look ponderous and lethargic in possession though, finding the door virtually barred in front of goal.
Madrid can't find a way centrally, so they look to the flanks, and Bale in particular, to provide some inspiration. The Welshman does well to manufacture some space for a cross on the left against the keen attention of Ansotegi, but there's a bevy of blue and white shirts waiting to get a head on the ball.
Sociedad's defence is packed firmly into their own half, with all 11 men behind the ball whenever they're out of possession. It's forcing Madrid to adjust on the fly, which they're not proving entirely adept at, playing the ball patiently in deeper areas but not getting it close to Bravo's goal.
Remember, Sociedad beat Barcelona 3-1 at this stadium earlier in the year. And on the balance of play so far, it will be a similarly arduous test for Real Madrid to navigate. They win another corner but Pepe reads it before anyone else and heads the ball away from danger.
It's a dud in the end though, as Bale whacks the set piece rather meekly into the wall. You'd expect much better from him should Madrid get a similar opportunity in the coming minutes. The match remains finely poised, with both sides looking capable of carving out an opening.
Bergara has been a pest against los Blancos so far, but he's lucky to avoid a yellow card for hacking down Bale in full flow. Madrid though have a free kick in prime position, and with Ronaldo absent, there's only one candidate striding up to take this...
It's definitely squeaky bum time on the Real Madrid bench, as everyone is hunched forward, eyes intently focused on events on the pitch. Ancelotti and Co. know the pressure that they are under to achieve maximum points here. If this current score holds, they will be five points behind leaders Atletico with only six games remaining.
JUST OVER THE TOP! Just as Sociedad were being put in the vice grips by Madrid, they respond with a wonderfully direct counter attack that nearly forces the opening goal! Once again it's the deadly duo of Vela and Griezmann causing problems, as the former clips a lovely ball into the mixer, from which the latter flicks an equally effective header narrowly above the crossbar!
Madrid are really starting to put their foot down in the last few minutes, dominating possession inside the Sociedad half. Carvajal is denied well by Gonzalez just as he was about to pull the trigger on a cross from the byeline, with bodies queuing up in the box.
Bale looks dangerous on the break and is running towards the Sociedad goal, shifting the ball onto his weaker, but still deadly, right foot. He squares up to have a crack at Bravo's goal, but Inigo Martinez has kept him in his sights, and slides in at just the right moment to make the block. Well defended there!
Trouble here for Jose Angel, who has pulled up and is not moving properly at all. He's been motoring up and down the left flank since the first whistle, but it seems that he'll play no further part in this one. Looks like Ion Ansotegi will be the man to replace him.
OFFSIDE, but WHAT A SAVE by Diego Lopez! The keeper was benched for Casillas against Dortmund midweek, but he's taken up the mantle again, and responded with one hell of a stop! Griezmann flicked a corner on towards the far post and Vela drove it goalwards, but Lopez sprung to his left to tip it away! The officials ruled that Vela was offside, but replays suggest that they made the wrong call.
Another man who will be keen to strut his stuff is Isco, who was just wrongly called for an offside after taking a few too many touches on a Benzema feed in the box. Isco seemed set to take la Liga by storm earlier in the season when he took Mesut Ozil's playmaking spot in Madrid's 4-2-3-1 formation. However, the later shift to a 4-3-3, which makes the most of Ronaldo and Bale's talents, rather left the former Malaga player as the odd man out.
Illarramendi is getting quite a hostile reception from the Sociedad faithful, less than 12 months after they were signing his name in the stands. No doubt that this is a big day for the midfielder to impress, as he's not quite staked a claim for a starting berth in Ancelotti's XI.
There was a glimpse of an opening there for Elustondo, who latched onto Zurutuza's clip, drove towards the near post and fired in a shot. Ramos though kept stride with him well, and blocked the shot out for a corner kick. Sociedad fail to make anything happen from the resulting delivery.
The ball movement has been very encouraging so far, particularly from a Sociedad perspective. Vela has been their most dangerous player so far, showing an appetite both for starting and finishing attacking moves.
Already some signs that there may be quite a few goals in this game. Sociedad have gotten forward well in the early goings, and had an appeal for a penalty denied when Vela's lashed effort bounced off the arm of Alonso. Would have been a harsh call for the referee to make though.
It will be interesting to see how Madrid cope without Ronaldo's presence on the wings. Ancelotti, perhaps surprisingly, opted to play Isco in the front three instead of the more natural replacement in Angel Di Maria, who is on the bench. The Argentine is certainly a more direct option than the former Malaga man, who prefers to cut in and link play across the box. There is a risk then of becoming over-dependent on Gareth Bale for width.
Here we go then as Madrid, in their changed traffic cone orange away strip, get matters underway.
In the same fixture last season, both sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw. Interestingly, the Madrid goalscorers in that match, Higuain, Callejon and Khedira, all have left the club or are injured. Ronaldo was also missing from the team in that game - which was the only time that Madrid failed to win against Sociedad in their last 10 meetings.
But those costly domestic wobbles have seen Madrid slip from first to third in the three horse race for the Liga title. To make matters worse for los Blancos, both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona edged out narrow home victories today, the former winning 1-0 against Villarreal, while the latter took maximum points with a 3-1 triumph against Real Betis. The onus is on Ancelotti and his men to deliver the goods now.
Madrid themselves have not been in the best of form as of late, which was mostly started by their 4-3 loss in El Clasico. Sevilla also managed to grab a win against them, though a big 5-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano and this week's 3-0 dismantling of Dortmund at the Bernabeu shows signs of things getting back to normal.
It's Sociedad's own fault that Sevilla are still in contention for fourth though, as they've only taken seven points from their past five matches. But here at the Anoeta, la Real have set up something of a fortress. They've lost only two of their past 29 games here, a run which stretches back to November 2012 and includes a 3-1 scalp of Barcelona.
Sociedad still are in the mix for that fourth and final Champions League place. Bilbao are six points ahead of them in fourth, but their Basque rivals have been wobbling domestically as of late. Sevilla though are also in with a shout as they sit level with la Real on 50 points.
Sociedad manager Jagoba Arrasate makes three changes from the side that drew 1-1 against Osasuna in the league six days ago. Out goes Alberto De la Bella, Chory Castro and Imanol Agirretxe, and in comes Roma loanee Jose Angel, prolific French forward Antoine Griezmann, and playmaker Sergio Canales, who will be playing against one of his former clubs tonight.
Cristiano Ronaldo misses out for the visitors as expected, mainly a precaution after he limped out of their 3-0 win over Dortmund midweek. In his absence, Carlo Ancelotti drafts in Asier Illarramendi, who returns to the Anoeta for the first time since leaving Sociedad for los Blancos last summer. Xabi Alonso also starts against his former club while in defence, Nacho gets the nod ahead of Fabio Coentrao with Marcelo absent.
MADRID: López, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Modric, Xabi Alonso, Illarramendi, Isco, Bale, Benzema.
SOCIEDAD: Bravo, José Ángel, C. Martínez, Mikel, Elustondo, Markel, Iñigo, Canales, Zurutuza, Griezmann, Vela.
Good evening everyone, and welcome to live coverage of the Liga clash between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid. I'm Keeghann Sinanan and I'll be bringing you all the action.
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