Sociedad loses ground in Spain after home loss to Villarreal

MADRID (AP) — Real Sociedad had its five-match unbeaten streak ended by a 2-1 home loss to Villarreal in the Spanish league last Sunday and lost ground in the race for a Champions League spot.

Real Sociedad led at halftime but conceded twice after the break for its first league loss since November — and first at home since October.

Real Sociedad stayed in fifth place with 31 points, four behind both third-place Atlético Madrid and fourth-place Sevilla, the last teams in qualification spots for the Champions League.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are tied at the top with 40 points each, with the Catalan club ahead on goal difference at the league’s midway point.

“We did a lot of good things, but we paid the price for not capitalising on our scoring chances,” Real Sociedad Coach Imanol Alguacil said.

Real Sociedad had lost only once in its last seven league matches — at Real Madrid in November.

Real Sociedad’s Spanish forward Cristian Portugues reacts after missing a goal opportunity. PHOTO: AFP

“We have some adjustments to make to avoid losing points like this, but we are on the right track,” Alguacil said.

Real Sociedad took the lead with a goal by striker Willian José in the 22nd minute, but the hosts rallied with a penalty kick converted by Manu Trigueros in the 58th and with substitute Santi Cazorla’s left-footed shot in the 72nd. Cazorla’s goal was initially called off for offside, but it was later confirmed by video review to give Villarreal its third consecutive league win.

The victory left Villarreal in ninth place, three points behind Real Sociedad.

Real Madrid won 3-0 at seventh-place Getafe on Saturday, while Barcelona was held by last-place Espanyol to a 2-2 away draw. Atlético beat midtable Levante 2-1 at home.

Real Sociedad has won only two of its last 16 league games against Villarreal.

Granada gained some distance from the relegation zone by defeating 17th-place Mallorca 1-0 at home.

The first-half winner was scored by midfielder Ángel Montoro, who was returning to action after being sidelined for an extended period. He couldn’t make it past the first half, though, after sustaining an apparent muscle injury.

“This victory is for Montoro, he gave all he had,” Granada coach Diego Martínez said.

Granada, which was coming off two straight league losses, moved to 10th place.

The loss extended Mallorca’s winless streak to six league matches, leaving the team inside the relegation zone.

Captain Joaquín Sánchez missed a first-half penalty kick and Real Betis could not manage more than a 1-1 draw at Alavés in a game which had a total of 10 yellow cards.

Sánchez had his penalty saved by Alavés goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco just before halftime at Mendizorroza Stadium.

Aleix Vidal put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute and Emerson equalized in the 55th.

Real Betis defender Zouhair Feddal was sent off with a straight red card for stopping a breakaway with a foul in the 78th.

Betis — winless in three league matches — stayed in 13th place.

Alavés — winless in five league games — stayed 15th.

Celta Vigo conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Osasuna at home, extending its winless streak to five matches.

Santi Mina put Celta ahead in the 75th but Chimy Ávila equalized for the hosts in the 83rd.

Celta has only one win in its last 11 league matches and is just outside the relegation zone. Osasuna is in 12th place.