Borja Mayoral and Gareth Bale did the damage as a depleted Real Madrid avoided dropping points for the third LaLiga game in a row by beating Real Sociedad 3-1 at Anoeta on Sunday in a commendable display.
Madrid's hosts went into the match having won all three of their previous league games, but Zinedine Zidane's men rose to the challenge despite being without Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and Karim Benzema, as Mayoral had a hand in the first two goals, before the under-fire Bale - who was otherwise quiet - wrapped things up.
The reigning champions looked in fine shape right from the start against an in-form La Real and were fully deserving of the lead when Mayoral – making his first LaLiga start since this fixture in April 2016 – slammed home 19 minutes in.
Real Sociedad's Kevin Rodrigues endured a turbulent half, as he initially levelled in 28th minute, before then seeing another effort hit the crossbar in a passage of play that ended with the left-back scoring an own goal following a swift Madrid break.
Madrid were rather more willing to sit back and counter at the break and that worked brilliantly when Bale broke away to score their third goal just after the hour mark.
La Real enjoyed plenty of possession towards the end and piled men forward in the hope of a late comeback, but the visitors produced a professional display and had little difficulty keeping their two-goal lead intact.
6 - Gareth Bale has scored more goals as an away player at Anoeta than any other player in La Liga history. Dragon. pic.twitter.com/XiPFkWemSv— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 17, 2017
Madrid were quick out of the blocks at Anoeta and Marco Asensio went close twice inside 16 minutes, seeing two efforts blocked after brilliant work by full-backs Dani Carvajal and Theo Hernandez.
There was no stopping Mayoral in the 19th minute, though, as he slammed home from close range after Sergio Ramos had held the ball up brilliantly for the young striker.
But La Real were level again soon after – Rodrigues meeting Odriozola's deep right-wing cross with a left-footed volley that squirmed under Keylor Navas, who should have kept it out.
The same combo caused havoc again in the 36th minute, but Rodrigues' volley this time hit the floor and bounced up onto the crossbar.
And Madrid marched straight up the other end to re-take the lead, as Mayoral rode one challenge, skipped past another on the halfway line and then beat Diego Llorente in the penalty area, allowing him to play a low ball into the danger zone for Rodrigues to accidentally put past his own goalkeeper.
The match was played with similar ferocity after the break and both sides had chances within six minutes of the restart – Llorente heading straight at Navas, before Mayoral stung the palms of Geronimo Rulli and then smashed the rebound into the side-netting.
Rulli was powerless to resist in the 61st minute, however, as Bale charged on to Isco's lofted pass over the defence, outpaced Rodrigues and then dinked a clever finish over the approaching goalkeeper.
La Real's need to push men forward left spaces at the back towards the end, and both Isco and substitute Lucas Vazquez went close – the former shooting just over from distance, before Rulli denied the Madrid winger.
David Zurutuza should have at least made the ending a little tense for Madrid when he was played through on goal five minutes before the end, but Dani Carvajal made a vital last-ditch tackle and the away side ultimately crossed the line.
Key Opta stats:
- Real Madrid have scored in each of their last 73 games (all comps), equalling Pele's Santos' record between 1961 and 1963.
- Borja Mayoral has scored his first goal for Real Madrid with his first shot on target (nine games played in all competitions).
- Madrid have won their last 11 away games in La Liga, their best away streak in the competition.
- Kevin Rodrigues is the first player to score a goal and an own goal in the same LaLiga game this season.
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