La Liga Week 22 began in style as Asier Illarramendi’s rocket took Real Sociedad past Espanyol and Aritz Aduriz was Athletic Bilbao’s saviour.
Espanyol 1-2 Real Sociedad
Espanyol had won three straight games upon welcoming La Real to Cornella-El Prat on Friday, and the latter lost top goalscorer Willian Jose to injury inside the opening 10 minutes.
Nonetheless, they went ahead through Carlos Vela, who poked home from a long ball, yet their lead lasted just eight minutes, Hernan Perez cutting inside from the right-hand and curling a finish past Gero Rulli.
Both sides were evenly matched until the hour mark, when Asier Illarramendi showed exactly why La Real shelled out €15m to bring him back with an unstoppable shot from distance for all three points.
Real Betis 0-0 Valencia
The following day saw Real Betis host Valencia in an early kick-off, and the Andalusians were left to rue a string of missed chances.
Alex Alegria had the goal at his mercy, only for Jose Gaya to suddenly appear on the scene and block the striker’s low finish on the line.
At the other end, German Pezzella was lucky not to concede a penalty after he handballed on the end of a Martin Montoya shot.
Petros then hit the post from close range, before Ruben Castro failed to beat Diego Alves from even nearer.
Valencia’s resilient performance was tainted somewhat by a second-half injury to Santi Mina, but Los Che didn’t let up and forced Antonio Adan into an important save down low via substitute Joao Cancelo near the end.
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Deportivo La Coruna
Rounding off Saturday was Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo La Coruna, whose Turkish midfielder Emre Colak drove them ahead with a swerving, looping drive.
Raul Garcia then had a header from point-blank range desperately pushed away by Przemyslav Tyton, although the goalkeeper could do little about Iker Muniain sliding in a rebound and Aritz Aduriz’s last-gasp finish.
The result meant Depor had dropped 21 points from winning positions in 2016-17, a La Liga high for the season.