Today visitors La Liga's Real Madrid beat hosts Real Sociedad 4-0 at the Anoeta Stadium. The Spanish Football Giants were missing the injured Cristiano Ronaldo and resting the sick Angel di Maria, and they found themselves playing a very motivated Sociedad who are in fifth place and pushing for better placement.
The first half of the game was a challenging and even match-up as Sociedad seemed to have Real's measure. Though few forays from either team were having an impact on opposition goalkeepers, those that did seemed destined for the nets until the last second, and the hosts were having the more dangerous chances.
Then, at the 45th minute Karim Benzema took a great shot inside the box that Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo parried straight into midfielder Asier Illarramendi whose reflex right footed poke found the net. The half ended 1-0 to Real.
The second half began with Sociedad taking the lead and having a few chances but Real soon exerted their superiority and began to control the game again.
At the 66th minute, Sociedad's Bravo had a brainless play when he turned a simple goal kick into a goal for Real. Bale reacted to the direct long range gift with a quick and perfectly placed shot into the lower left of the net--Real 2, Sociedad 0.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti then decided to take Isco, Gareth Bale (who received a tough knock), and Xabi Alonso out over a ten minute period late in the second half, substituting them with di Maria, Alvaro Morata and Casemiro. The new players added some fresh legs and helped put an end to any Sociedad hopes.
At the 85th minute a Sergio Ramos header in the Sociedad box found Pepe who volleyed a left-footed shot into the net from close range for the third score.
At the 88th minute a brilliant through pass by Angel di Maria found Alvaro Morata on the run and the young striker stroked the ball into the lower right corner of the goal as the onrushing Bravo slid ineffectually.
The score was lopsided but the play was not. Real got the win, but it was no blow-out as Sociedad gave as much as it took for long stretches and two of the Real goals were fortunate. That said, once Bale scored the game seemed out of reach for Sociedad with the only question being whether the hosts could pull one back--two seemed unrealistic.
The three La Liga table leaders needed to win today and each found a way. None had their "A" game for the full match, but each had their type of win against very tough opposition. Atletico has 79 points, Barcelona 78 and Real Madrid 76, with six games to go. The domestic title is still very much up for grabs and the next one to blink might just be left behind.