Barcelona proves too strong for upstart Real Sociedad

Barcelona comes from behind to beat Real Sociedad 2-1.

Jordi Alba (second from right) celebrates with Lionel Messi (c) after scoring on Wednesday. - REUTERS

Barcelona finally made a statement of intent in what has been a chaotic season as it came from behind to beat La Liga leader Real Sociedad 2-1 at home on Wednesday.


Brazilian striker Willian Jose gave the visiting team the lead from close range in the 27th minute but Barca came right back at it, levelling four minutes later when Jordi Alba smashed the ball into the top corner with his weaker right foot.

The Catalans took the lead shortly before halftime when Frenkie de Jong arrived into the box and poked home a cross from Alba, initially seeing the goal ruled out for offside but then celebrating when it was awarded after a VAR review.

Real Sociedad, missing David Silva and top scorer Mikel Oyarzabal, failed to rise to the occasion, yet it should have equalised several times, such as when Alexander Isak was thwarted by a fine tackle from Barca’s Pedri and a great save by Marc-Andre ter Stegen from close range.

'Best performance of the season'

“It was our best performance of the season, I’m so happy with the attitude the team showed,” said Alba.

“It’s difficult when you don’t have fans in the stadium but we were still really motivated to win the game. Today we saw a great Barca side, one that was ready to fight for every ball.”

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A second consecutive victory took Barca up to fifth in La Liga on 20 points after 12 games and knocked Real Sociedad off the top and into second.

Atletico Madrid, which also has 26 points, sneaked up to the summit on goal difference, but it has one game in hand on Barca and three on Real Sociedad.

Barca produced a commanding performance, especially in the first half, but went behind against the run of play when Sociedad staged an elaborate move following a corner and Willian Jose appeared at the far post to nudge in a cross from Portu.


They quickly got back into the game through Alba’s thumping strike and should have gone ahead when Antoine Griezmann hit the woodwork against the side where he began his career before Martin Braithwaite lifted the ball over the bar with the goal gaping.

They kept at it, though, and were rewarded when Dutch midfielder De Jong scored his first goal of the season.

Griezmann missed an even clearer chance to score in the second half, while Lionel Messi continued to show signs of a lack of sharpness.

Barca faced a nervy ending but pulled off a win that will lift their morale and revitalise their hopes of joining the title race.

That's the Barca I want to see - Koeman

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman praised his side's relentless pressing after its 2-1 win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

“The first half was fantastic, we should have scored more goals. We were intense, we put them under a lot of pressure and we ran ourselves into the ground,” Koeman told a news conference.

“Real Sociedad are excellent on the ball but we kept robbing it off them, we pressed them so well. It was an open game because our opponents know how to play very well but the game belonged to us and it was a deserved triumph.”

Lionel Messi had an off night and missed several chances as well as misplacing a couple of key passes, but Koeman said he was pleased with his captain's work rate.

“This is the team I want to see. Every player played out of their skin. The biggest difference was our play without the ball today, and Messi worked very hard in that respect, pressing a lot, and so did everyone else,” he said.

“That was the attitude we have to have when we don't have the ball.”

Real Sociedad had been on a nine-game unbeaten run in the league when they arrived at the Camp Nou but they struggled to cope with Barca, and coach Imanol Alguacil praised the Catalans for their efforts.

“We saw the best Barca we have seen for a very long time, especially defensively,” he said.

“That speaks very highly of them and the respect they had for this game. We hadn't seen a Barca this aggressive for so long. Even Messi was diving to the floor to win tackles.”

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