Spanish leaders Barcelona suffered their first Spanish La Liga defeat on Saturday when they surprisingly surrendered a 2-0 lead to go down 3-2 to Real Sociedad. Super-sub Imanol Agirretxe scored an injury-time winner for Sociedad.
The shock defeat left Barca 11 points above second-placed Atletico Madrid, who will play Levante on Sunday. Atletico are seven points above third-placed Real Madrid, who visit Valencia on Sunday.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova said: “I have to congratulate Real Sociedad. I have nothing to reproach my players for. I never thought this game was going to be easy, not even when it was 2-0 to us. We had to lose one day. This is football, but this does not worry me.”
Striker Pedro, who scored Barca’s second goal, complained about their side’s defender Gerard Pique being sent off, saying “it was not fair at all.”
Sociedad boss Philippe Montanier said: “I am very proud of my team. We knew we were going to suffer. We went through difficult moments, but the players never gave up.”
Barca should have killed the game off in the first half but missed good chances. FIFA world player Lionel Messi gave the visitors the lead in the seventh minute with one of his left-footed drives. It was his 29th league goal — a record at this stage of the season — and his 10th straight scoring match, equalling the Liga record established by Ronaldo in 1997 for Barca.
Pedro increased the lead for Barca in the 26th minute by turning in a centre from Dani Alves. But Uruguayan Gonzalo Castro pulled a goal back for Sociedad five minutes before half-time after being set up by Carlos Vela. In the 58th minute Barca were reduced to 10 men when defender Gerard Pique was shown a second yellow card, and six minutes later it was 2-2, when Barca’s Javier Mascherano deflected a shot from Castro into his own goal.
With their fans driving them forward, Sociedad realized that Barca was vulnerable in defence. The winning goal came in the second minute of injury time. Carlos Martinez crossed from the right, and super-sub Agirretxe made it 3-2 by poking the ball home from close range.
The dramatic win left Real Sociedad in ninth place.