Sociedad beats Rayo 2-0 to pull level with Real Madrid

Alexander Sorloth of Real Sociedad controls the ball from Pathe Ciss of Rayo Vallecano during the LaLiga Santander match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad at Campo de Futbol de Vallecas on January 21, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.

Led by an ageless David Silva and a striker making the most of a second chance, Real Sociedad is threatening to make it a three-way title fight in the Spanish league. Sociedad’s 2-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in the capital on Saturday pulled it level with second-placed Real Madrid a week before they face one another.

Leader Barcelona is just three points clear. Both powerhouses have two more games to play, but the San Sebastián team, which hasn’t won the league since the 1980s, is coming on strong with nine straight wins across the league and the Copa del Rey.

Imanol Alguacil’s Sociedad faces a big week ahead. It visits Camp Nou on Wednesday to play Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals before visiting the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday to face Madrid in the league. 

“Right now we can compete with anyone,” said Ander Barrenetxea, who scored Sociedad’s second goal. “We have two tough matches ahead, but we are highly motivated.”

Silva helped put Sociedad ahead in the 15th minute when the 37-year-old midfielder recovered the ball and slipped a pass through Rayo’s defense to meet the run of Alexander Sorloth.

The Norway striker used one touch of the tip of his boot to stab the ball under goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski. Sociedad doubled the lead in the 36th on a set piece. Aritz Elustondo curled around a scrum of players to shake his marker and redirected a corner kick to the far post where Barrenetxea finished it off.

While Silva is still showing the playmaking skills from his best years at Manchester City and for Spain’s national team, Sorloth is enjoying a superb season of his own. 

Following a ho-hum 2021-22 campaign on loan at Sociedad, Sorloth was brought back again on loan from Leipzig after Sociedad sold Alexander Isak to Newcastle for a club record haul of 70 million euros ($76 million).

But Sorloth was still set to be the second option until top signing Umar Sadiq sustained a serious knee injury in September. The 27-year-old Sorloth has responded by scoring eight times in 14 league games, including a now five-round scoring streak, compared to just three goals in 32 league games last season.

Rayo tried to muster a comeback at the start of the second half, but Sociedad goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro snuffed it out when he saved a header by Florian Lejeune. Sociedad won the Copa del Rey in 2020. Its two Spanish league titles came in 1981 and 1982.

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