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FC Barcelona produced a strong Wednesday night performance to become only the second side this season to defeat Liga leaders Real Sociedad. They had to do it the hard way, coming from behind to collect three crucial points at Camp Nou.
And those three points, coupled with those obtained against Levante at the weekend, leave the Catalans’ league position suddenly looking a LOT healthier than it did a week ago.
Real strike first
Real Sociedad took the lead on 27 minutes. Cristian Portu resisted the temptation to shoot and picked out Willian José at the far post instead. And a fine goal it was. But until then we had seen nothing to suggest why Real Sociedad are the highest scoring team in La Liga. Almost all the meaningful football had been played by the men in blaugrana.
As so often this season, what was missing was the finishing. The chances were there but the goals were not.
That wrong was righted in spectacular fashion by Jordi Alba just moments after Real had scored. The visitors really should have let the ball go out for a corner, and instead were stunned by the full-back, highly active all game, pouncing on a half chance on the edge of the area and curling the ball straight into the net. In a flash, we were back all square!
Barça were on a roll, but the uncertainty in front of goal was still haunting them. Antoine Griezmann put a wonderful chance onto the bar, Martin Braithwaite sent a similarly clear-cut chance sailing over the bar and Frenkie de Jong did score but was caught offside…
…Or was he? It had looked like the correct decision but the replays revealed otherwise. Luckily we have VAR this days and the decision was overturned. Goal to Barça, De Jong’s first of the season, and a 2-1 lead at the break!
In search of a third
Barça continued to be very much on top after the restart, but in need of the insurance of another goal. Griezmann will be frustrated not to have provided exactly that. One of the French striker’s misses was particularly unfortunate, and he deserved more from a fabulous performance in attack.
As the minutes ticked by, Real started looking livelier and livelier. The young duo of Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza must be commended for their work in the middle of defence, because all of a sudden there was a very real threat of the Basques snatching an equaliser.
And they would have had it had Ter Stegen not produced two consecutive point-blank saves in the final minutes. Two saves that were all the difference between three points and just one, and that have thrown Barça right back into the title fight.
There is plenty of football still to be played in 2020/21. Bring it on!
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