Madrid Still In The Title Race With A Big And Entertaining Win At Anoeta Stadium: Real Sociedad 0 - 4 Real Madrid.

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce

Madrid visited Anoeta Stadium in desperate need of 3 points after wins at the top of the table earlier today. It was a great game for the neutrals between two surprisingly evenly-matched sides for most of the match, but only Los Blancos finished its chances and Real Madrid came away with an impressive 4-0 victory from a difficult away stadium.

The Lineups

Real Sociedad: Claudio Bravo; Carlos Martínez, Mikel González, Iñigo Martínez, José Ángel; Bergara, Elustondo, Zurutuza, Canales; Griezmann, Vela.

Real Madrid: Diego López; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho; Alonso, Illarramendi, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Bale.

The First Half

'45 Asier Illarramendi

It was a raucous atmosphere at the Anoeta, and so noisy it was easy to forget the stadium is multi-purpose.

With a visibly tired Luka Modric struggling when in possession, and a physically very imposing Real Sociedad finding it easy to play through Xabi Alonso, Madrid's Isco and Asier Illarramendi (most especially the latter) worked very hard to make up the deficit. Both players helped to keep and regain possession against a Real Sociedad that was defending well, breaking well to attack, and pressing well to regain possession.

Most of Real Sociedad's counterattacking threat came down their left side. Sergio Ramos, who had a solid first half was able to clear every attack down the wing as it reached Madrid's penalty area. Sociedad did attack well through the centre of the pitch though and forced Diego Lopez into saves. Their defence played a very high line, which, the conventional wisdom would have it, can be risky against Real Madrid. But Madrid, in that first half, seemed unable to come up with the decisive pass they needed to take advantage of the space Real Sociedad's defence left for their attacking players.

When Real Madrid's goal finally came it was scored with Madrid's first shot on target at the end of the first half in the 45th minute. Karim Benzema's initial shot was saved, but Illarramendi scored off the rebound when Claudio Bravo found himself unable to hold the ball. No Real Madrid player on the pitch deserved it more.

Real Sociedad may have been, just, the better side in the first half; but Madrid, with a deadly efficiency, had the opening goal from its first shot on target.

Second Half

'66 Gareth Bale; '85 Pepe; '89 Morata

Real Madrid started more confidently in the second half, calmer because of their lead. They had waited 45 minutes to get their first shot on goal but hit the woodwork with a header by Sergio Ramos off a set-piece within 4 minutes of the restart. The team found it easier to keep possession, and Xabi Alonso forced a good save from Claudio Bravo in the 57th minute.

Real Sociedad, who had played on the counter in the first half, were forced to commit players forward and this suited Madrid, who were happy to counter themselves. In one attack Karim Benzema sent in a beautiful and difficult strike from distance, but the woodwork saved Real Sociedad again.

But it didn't matter because a minute later, a poor clearance from Claudio Bravo fell at the feet of a quick-thinking Gareth Bale, who scored Madrid's second off an unlikely shot from distance from a very difficult angle.

With key players missing, Madrid were not able to control the match as they might have liked even with a two goal lead, so the match continued in entertaining fashion with both teams attacking from end to end.

Pepe put victory beyond doubt by scoring a third goal in the 85th; but the icing on the cake of this victory was provided by Alvaro Morata who got the fourth in the 89th minute, some two minutes after being substituted on for Gareth Bale.

And finally, Madrid fans will have been happy to see Di Maria coming on for a cameo to replace Isco in the 81st minute. His outing may only have been 10 minutes, but he looks certain to start in Dortmund in midweek.

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