Lara's goal lifts Eibar to upset win over Real Sociedad in La Liga opener
Javi Lara's goal lifts Eibar to upset win over Real Sociedad in La Liga opener
Eibar's Javier Lara celebrates after scoring his side's winner vs. Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images Europe
Basque outfit Eibar got off to a dream start in their first ever season in the Primera Division season, pulling off a 1-0 win at home to neighbors Real Sociedad.
Midfielder Javi Lara scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of halftime, crashing a free-kick into the net from the tightest of angles. While La Real produced a strong second-half display, they could not turn their late pressure into goals.
The newly-promoted side, playing a traditional 4-4-2 formation, produced an intense first-half performance and had their more established top-flight opponents on the ropes from the off. Defender Raul Albentosa squandered their first clear chance, heading just inches wide of the far post from a corner in the seventh minute.
Striker Angel then also headed off target, and midway through the first half La Real goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai had to make a double save to prevent the opener. The stopper was caught by surprise by Lara and could only punch the ball into the danger zone, but he was alert to Mikel Arruabarrena's rebound, diving across goal to tip it around the post.
La Real could offer little at the other end, their only chances in the opening 45 minutes being a wayward volley from Carlos Martinez and a header from Imanol Agirretxe that also missed the target. With the game heading towards half-time goalless, exciting winger Lara produced a moment of magic to break the deadlock.
The 28-year-old stood over a free-kick just a few yards from the byline and caught everyone by surprise by going for goal, sending the ball straight into the net in off the far post. La Real improved in the second half and had several opportunities to draw level.
Former Eibar full-back Yuri Berchiche shot into the side netting, Agirretxe drilled a header at Eibar goalkeeper Xabi Irureta but the stopper stood firm, and then substitute Carlos Vela headed just wide following a cross from Joseba Zaldua. The concerted pressure turned into an onslaught on the Eibar goal as the clock ticked away, with Inigo Martinez, Agirrexte and Xabi Prieto each missing chances in the final few minutes.
In the fourth minute of injury time the ball fell to substitute Chory Castro, but Irureta was behind it, eventually grabbing the ball and ensuring Eibar's start to life in the top flight was a memorable one.