Home » La Liga, Latest » Match Report: Real Sociedad 2 Barcelona 1

Barcelona missed the chance to move within a point of the Primera Division title as they surprisingly lost 2-1 at Real Sociedad in the 34th round of matches.

Thiago Alcantara gave Barca the lead late in the first half, but late goals from Diego Ifran and Xabi Prieto – from the penalty spot – handed the Basques a shock win.

Barcelona had seen fierce rivals Real Madrid surprisingly lose 3-2 at home to Zaragoza in the early match and knew a win in San Sebastian would take them 11 points clear with only 12 to play for.

With the Catalans set to face Madrid in the teams’ Champions League semi-final second leg at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night, coach Pep Guardiola rang the changes.

Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, David Villa, Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol and Pedro were all left out of the starting line-up, with the last two struggling with knocks after Wednesday’s first-leg game.

With left-backs Adriano, Maxwell and Eric Abidal all sidelined as well, Guardiola handed rare starts to Andreu Fontas and Martin Montoya in the full-back positions, while Ibrahim Afellay and Jeffren Suarez began in attack.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was the inclusion of Lionel Messi, who had been carrying a knock after Wednesday’s match at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi was involved early on, firing off target after four minutes and setting up Afellay for a decent chance moments later.

Raul Tamudo, so often a thorn in Barca’s side in his time at Espanyol, missed a good opening at the other end after a quarter of an hour.

But Barca looked the more likely and the Catalans took the lead after half an hour, when Messi miscontrolled Xavi’s pass and the ball rolled through to Thiago, who clipped a shot over Real goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and in off the bar.

There were chances for both sides after the break, but Barca looked comfortable enough until Ifran levelled 19 minutes from time.

The Uruguayan forward scooped the ball over Pinto after a through-ball from Antoine Griezmann pierced a hole in the Barca defence.

Gabi Milito then saw a goal disallowed following a free-kick at the other end, but Real came close again as Xabi Prieto tested Pinto.

A minute later, though, Javier Mascherano fouled David Zurutuza in the area and Real had a penalty.

Xabi Prieto hit a weak kick straight down the middle, which Pinto almost saved as he changed direction, but the Andalusian keeper was unable to make the save – much to his disgust – and Real had a shock lead.

Bravo saved from Messi and Jeffren also came close late on, but Barca lost for only the second time in the league this season and will have to put their title celebrations on hold for now.

With four games left, the Catalans still lead Madrid by eight points.

Real, meanwhile, took a big step towards survival as they moved up to 11th place, with a total of 41 points.

Source: ESPN

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