A narrow 2-1 win at Club Atlético de Madrid preserved Real Sociedad’s unbeaten Primera División record and extended the gap to second-placed Real Madrid CF at the top of the table to six points.
Atlético, buoyed by last week’s 2-2 draw in the Santiago Bernabéu in the Madrid derby, began brightly and pushed the leaders back in the early stages. However, for all their pressure the home team could not make the breakthrough.
Westerveld in fine form
Real goalkeeper Sander Westerveld was in fine form, keeping Atlético at bay for much of the first period, and the Dutch goalkeeper made his second penalty save in as many games when he kept out Fernando Correa’s effort.
Real were a different side after the interval, and took the lead a minute into the second period as Turkish midfield player Tayfun Korkut took advantage of some poor defender, converting a left-wing cross from Francisco de Pedro.
However, the home side bounced back immediately and equalised within two minutes thanks to Luis Garcia's sweeping left-foot finish. Once more, Atlético were let down by a defensive lapse, as Yugoslavian striker Darko Kovacevic headed in a cross from Aitor López Rekarte just past the hour to clinch victory for Real.
The victory took Real means Real have 43 points from 19 matches, and can claim the title of winter champions as they are unbeaten at the halfway stage. However, Madrid have the chance to cut the gap to three points on Sunday as they visit Athletic Club Bilbao.
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