Atletico Madrid beaten by managerless Sociedad
Sociedad are expected to announce the appointment of former Manchester United manager David Moyes in the coming days and on this performance there was plenty to encourage the Scot after Mario Mandzukic had fired Atletico into an early lead from Raul Garcia’s fine low cross.
Carlos Vela curled home a wonderful equaliser five minutes later and the Mexican was then extremely unfortunate to see a yellow card for diving when he appeared to have been felled by Diego Godin inside the area.
Godin showed the athleticism and awareness that has made him one of the best centre-backs in world football to prevent Sociedad going in front just before the break as he raced back to clear off the line after Imanol Agirretxe had latched onto Miranda’s awful backpass and rounded Miguel Angel Moya.
Atletico’s task became much tougher just four minutes into the second period when Guilherme Siqueira was shown two quickfire bookings to leave the visitors with just 10 men.
Vela had another penalty appeal waved away when he clashed with Mandzukic inside the area and the Croatian international could have restored Atletico’s lead at the other end when he turned Cristian Ansaldi’s low cross just wide.
However, Diego Simeone’s men were struggling to retain possession for any period of time and were finally punished eight minutes from time when Imanol Aggirretxe powered a header home at the near post to hand Sociedad just their second victory of the season.
There was also disappointment Valencia and Sevilla on Sunday as they were held at home by Athletic Bilbao and Levante respectively.
A point moves Valencia up to third, three points behind Madrid, whilst Sevilla remain fifth but are now level on points with Atletico.
Valencia had taken advantage of their lack of European action so far this season to suggest they could pose an unlikely title challenge.
However, with their Spanish international strike pairing Paco Alcacer and Rodrigo held scoreless for the sixth consecutive game, even the introduction of Alvaro Negredo as a second-half substitute couldn’t breakdown Athletic’s well-organised defence.
Alcacer had the best opening of the first period as he headed over when unmarked inside the box from Pablo Piatti’s free-kick.
Piatti was then denied from close range by Gorka Iraizoz and Andres Gomez dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area as Valencia enjoyed a five-minute spell of pressure.
Yet, even after Negredo replaced Piatti, Valencia’s threat wilted after the break and they were grateful to goalkeeper Diego Alves for a point as the Brazilian bravely blocked Xabi Etxeita’s shot from point-blank range with his face three minutes from time.
It was a similar story for Sevilla despite going in front when Vitolo headed home Gerard Deulofeu’s cross on the half hour mark.
Sevilla’s top scorer Carlos Bacca then had two chances to seal the three points after the break as he fired just wide and was then denied by a clearance off the line by Juanfran.
And the hosts were left to regret those missed opportunities as goalkeeper Beto flapped at a corner 10 minutes from time and the ball fell kindly for Victor Casadesus to prod home from close range.
Sevilla still had their chances to win the game at the death as Kevin Gameiro just failed to reach Bacca’s dangerous low cross before Diego Marino blocked Coke’s fierce drive from close range in the eighth minute of stoppage time as the visitors held on.