La Liga: Real Sociedad go top as Fati’s return helps Barca to vital win

Real Sociedad moved to the top of La Liga after a 1-0 win at home to Real Mallorca. Neither Real nor Atletico Madrid played this weekend in order to allow their South American players time to recover after midweek World Cup qualifiers, allowing the Basque side to move three points clear at the top of the table thanks to Julen Lobete’s last-minute goal.

Real Sociedad played for over 45 minutes with 10 men on Sunday evening after left-back Aihen Munoz was sent off for two yellow cards, but Mallorca lacked the ambition to make them suffer and Lobete’s deflected shot sent the fans in a packed Reale Arena into celebrations.

Sevilla moved into third with a 1-0 win away to Celta Vigo, who continue to struggle in the opening weeks of the season.

Rafa Mir’s 54th-minute goal put Sevilla level on points with Real and Atletico Madrid, and increases the pressure on Celta coach Eduardo Coudet, whose side have just two wins and a draw from their first nine matches.

Ansu Fati returned to the Barcelona starting lineup and helped his side to a 3-1 win which should slightly ease the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman, Xinhua reports. Jose Luis Gaya put Valencia ahead with a swerving shot from outside the Barca area in just the fourth minute, but Fati curled home to ease nerves in the 12th minute and then won a penalty that Memphis Depay lashed home four minutes before half-time.

Valencia pressured Barcelona in the second half and Carlos Soler was unlucky to hit the post before Philippe Coutinho, who replaced Fati in the 60th minute, added Barca’s third against the run of play with six minutes left.

Osasuna ended Villarreal’s unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win in the Estadio de la Ceramica thanks to Chimy Avila’s 86th minute goal.

The striker, who missed almost a year after a knee operation, scored his first goal since January 2020 to lift the team from Pamplona up to fifth.

Lucas Torro had volleyed Osasuna in front midway through the first half, while Gerard Moreno’s excellent finish 10 minutes after the break looked to have earned his side a point before Avila’s late strike.

The bad news for Osasuna is an ankle injury suffered by striker Kike Garcia, who left the field in considerable pain making way for Avila.

Rayo Vallecano’s stunning return to La Liga continues after they came back from a goal behind to beat Elche 2-1.

Lucas Boye scored an excellent individual goal to put Elche ahead in the 13th minute, but Mario Hernandez’s neat header equalized for Rayo in the 25th minute and Randy Nteka scored the winning goal with his first touch after coming on as a 61st minute substitute.

Levante and Getafe drew a dull game 0-0 on Saturday in a game between two sides who had new coaches in their respective dugouts. Getafe’s Quique Sanchez Flores is probably the happier of the two, but Levante’s Javier Pereira will be content to see his team produce a more assured defensive display.

Monday sees Espanyol play at home to Cadiz, while struggling Alaves entertain Real Betis.