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 on 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 capitalizing 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.

It 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 just outside the relegation zone.