With Sunday’s Madrid Derby now on the horizon, Real Madrid missed a massive opportunity to ratchet up the pressure on Atlético by slipping to a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad at Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano on Monday night.
Real clearly felt the absence of Karim Benzema up top — along with the continued unavailability of Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard, Dani Carvajal and Éder Militão — and today’s starting front three of Marco Asensio, Mariano and Isco was hooked en masse in the 61st minute after Portu had put Sociedad up 1-0 in the 55th.
The goal was a thing of beauty. Nacho Monreal’s cross was driven on a rope to Portu, allowing the forward to generate enough power to send a thumping header back across goal and crossbar down.
De cabeza, Portu le da la ventaja a la @RealSociedad #RealMadridRealSociedad ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/DeQKKPB05s— beIN SPORTS Español (@ESbeINSPORTS) March 1, 2021
Real delivered moments of class and quality in the midfield and when transitioning into attack — as you’d expect from Luka Modrić, Toni Kroos, Asensio and Isco — but things continuously broke down in the final third.
¿Puede alguien explicar cómo esta jugada no terminó en gol? #RealMadridRealSociedad pic.twitter.com/oFwgDeEOMh— beIN SPORTS Español (@ESbeINSPORTS) March 1, 2021
However, Zinedine Zidane's introduction of Vinícius Júnior did the trick. His first action was getting Andoni Gorosabel booked in comical fashion.
That's ONE way to stop a speedster ⚡️ #RealMadridRealSociedad pic.twitter.com/n3HpmdIzFC— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) March 1, 2021
His next was the equalizer in the 89th minute. Lucas Vázquez played a one-two with Federico Valverde, who kept the fullback moving with a clever backheel. Vázquez’s cutback somehow made it through to Vinícius without a touch, and the 20-year-old Brazilian kept his cool to swivel and put his effort on frame.
⚪️ VINICIUS JUNIOR throws Los Blancos a lifeline with a late equalizer! #RealMadridRealSociedad pic.twitter.com/mYVcu51IO2— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) March 1, 2021
Victory would’ve cut Atlético’s lead at the top to just three points before Sunday’s massive derby, but it's still a three-horse race in LaLiga.