Liga - Barcelona squander two-goal lead

Sat, 10 Sep 19:16:00 2011

Real Sociedad came from two goals down to claim a creditable 2-2 draw with Barcelona in their Liga clash at the Anoeta.

2011-2012 Liga Barcellona-Real Sociedad - 0

Xavi Hernadez struck in the eighth minute after unselfish work by Cesc Fabregas and the former Arsenal skipper was on hand to poach the second 60 seconds later after Claudio Bravo could only parry Pedro Rodriguez's shot.

But the hosts stunned Barcelona with two second-half goals in as many minutes.

Imanol Agirretxe headed beyond Victor Valdes on 59 and, after David Villa's suicidal back pass played in Agirretxe, Antoine Griezmann was on hand to finish after Sergio Busquets deflected Agirretxe's shot against the bar.

Real Sociedad finished the stronger and only a timely intervention by Dani Alves prevented Inigo Martinez heading a late winner.

While Pep Guardiola's side were clear favourites to take the points, the manager had every reason to be wary after the Txuri-urdin stunned his side with a 2-1 win at the end of April.

And it was the hosts who started the brightest as they pinned their illustrious visitors back, but they were stunned twice in two minutes.

As the blue and white shirts sat back, a lofted ball to Fabregas beat the Real offside trap and he squared the ball to Xavi, who swept the ball home.

Real Sociedad had barely drawn breath when they were caught cold again.

Once again, the ball over the top left the Real defence floundering, Fabregas unselfishly played in Pedro Rodgruez who should have scored, but when his tame side-foot was parried by Bravo, the new signing followed up to double the lead.

In a rare foray into Barcelona territory, Agirretxe went down in the box under Andreu Fontas' attentions, only for the referee to wave away his penalty appeals.

Pedro almost added a third when yet another ball left the Real defence exposed, but onrushing keeper Bravo did enough to put the striker off and the ball rebounded to safety.

It took 43 minutes before Real registered a shot on target. Alves's poor defensive header only found Griezmann and when his cushioned header found Xabi Prieto, Valdes was in the right position to make the save.

Real fired an early warning after the break. Agirretxe held off Alves and his shot went narrowly wide.

David Villa tried his luck for the visitors after cutting inside Dani Estrada only to scuff his shot, but it was Real who got the important third goal on 59. Prieto got behind the Barcelona backline and his teasing cross was headed superbly beyond Valdes by Agirretxe.

And they were level on the hour mark. Villa played a crazy back pass from inside the Real half only to find Agirretxe in attendance. He skipped beyond Valdes and, as Busquets on the line appeared to handle the ball against the bar, Griezmann followed up to put his side level.

Surprisingly there was no red card for the Barcelona man despite Real protests and as Guardiola threw on surprise sub Lionel Messi, Pedro shot high and wide from Alves's cut back.

The home team almost got a third in bizarre circumstances after Valdes turned his back as the hosts sportingly returned the ball after an incident, only recovering at the last minute to dive on the goalbound ball.

And it was Real who almost snatched it at the end.

Busquets conceded a free-kick with a studs-up challenge on MIkel Aranburu and as the waiting David Zurutuza whipped the ball in, Alves headed behind with Martinez poised to pounce.

Martinez was again denied in stoppage time when his header from the resulting corner came off a defender, but when Messi was booked for diving with seconds remaining, Barcelona knew it was not to be their night.

Ian Hare / Eurosport

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