David Moyes's Real Sociedad secured a 2-0 victory over third tier Real Oviedo in the Copa del Rey thanks to an Alfred Finnbogason brace. Ovideo had held their La Liga opponents to a goalless draw in the first leg. But in front of their San Sebastian support, Sociedad dominated with Finnbogason finally netting on 28 minutes after fluffing earlier chances. And the Icelandic striker made the game secure with a volley after an hour as Moyes's men progressed to the last 16.
David Moyes’ Real Sociedad denied by Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao
Real Sociedad 1 - 1 Athletic Bilbao
Carlos Alberto Vela 3
Away team scorers Oscar De Marcos 61
When the final whistle went at the end of David Moyes’ first Basque derby the manager strode from his bench shaking his head, greeted Athletic Bilbao’s Ernesto Valverde, crossed the sodden running track and went down the tunnel. In the very last minute the final chance had dropped to Sergio Canales but Gorka Iraizoz saved on his line. Moyes had stood with his head in his hands. Victory had been close but the game at Anoeta finished 1-1.
There was some satisfaction but there was concern, too, at the way in which Real Sociedad failed to make the most of their early superiority and the familiar manner in which their performance dipped in the second half, after Carlos Vela had given them a lead which really should have been extended. “I enjoyed my first Basque derby and I look forward to more but I am a little disappointed we did not take all three points,” Moyes said.
“We played very well in the first half and I think we should have been at least 2-0 at half-time, maybe 3-0. But we dropped our energy in the second half. We have to play with the same intensity for 90 minutes, not 45, not 60. I have told the players.”
It took la Real two minutes and 20 seconds to score the opening goal. It was an early glimpse of the way they would play too. Intensity and aggression were words that had been repeated often during the week while Moyes had said he was thinking of making changes. The intensity was clear and, while the changes were few, they were significant.
Markel Bergara was rushed back from injury to play alongside Esteban Granero in midfield while the Icelandic striker Alfred Finnbogason started up front. That allowed Vela, who had been denied space and influence as a sole striker at Villarreal last weekend, to play a freer role, arriving from deep at speed. For the opening goal he burst through without the ball, appearing on the edge of the six-yard box to head in. More often he would arrive with it.
The goal began on the right. Xabi Prieto’s cross found Finnbogason and, although he misjudged his header, the ball ran across to the other side, where Chori Castro collected and clipped back across the face of goal. Vela raced in and headed his seventh goal of the season. Iraizoz reached the ball but could not keep it out.
Two headers, first from Iñigo Martinez, meeting a corner six yards out, and then from Finnbogason, on the end of Carlos Martínez’s cross near the penalty spot, should have increased la Real’s lead. Both opportunities were wasted. “In England we would call that a sitter,” Moyes said of Martínez’s header.
Vela continued to be the greatest danger. His run was the genesis of Finnbogason’s header; it was characteristic too. Every time he dropped deep to collect the ball, he turned and immediately ran at Athletic. Ander Iturraspe was fortunate not to be booked for hauling him down as he threatened to race through a minute after the goal and a little before the half-hour he collected the ball to the right of the centre circle and outran the Athletic defence, beating three men only momentarily to outrun the ball. He turned back to get the shot off but the save was comfortable.
Moyes would have been satisfied with the effort but not the effectiveness. The intensity could not last; la Real needed to capitalise on it while it did. The slenderness of the lead meant that la Real could not feel secure and early in the second half Iker Muniain had a wonderful chance only to curl the ball over the bar from eight yards.
The ball was Athletic’s now. The intensity, as it had in Moyes’ first game in La Coruña, lessened significantly in the second half. Real Sociedad’s 4-0 defeat at Villarreal had followed a goalless first half. Perhaps this was another glimpse that this is a team that lacks athleticism, the physical legacy of a questionable pre-season. And just as that sensation grew, Athletic scored a wonderful equaliser.
Markel Susaeta’s long, in-swinging ball from the left reached Óscar de Marcos, racing in, and he side-footed a volley in off the underside of the bar. It was a superb finish and the delivery too had been impressive. The time he had been allowed, though, had been excessive. Soon afterwards Aritz Aduriz’s shot slipped past the post. Moyes immediately made two changes and then the Athletic central defender Aymeric Laporte was sent off for leading with his arm on Prieto.
Now the balance seemed to have tipped once again and the noise rose. Moyes waved his players forward. The tension grew and so, at times, did the frustration as instructions went unheeded and promising positions yielded little. Imagination was scarce, a handful of right-wing crosses coming to nothing until Canales curled a brilliant free-kick off the bar and then, in the final moments, another chance dropped his way by the penalty spot. The volley was goal-bound but Iraizoz saved.