Barcelona struggles to beat Real Sociedad, Real Madrid is carried out by Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona Fight Back To Beat Real Sociedad, Real Madrid Held By Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona came from behind to beat Real Sociedad on Saturday when Real Madrid lost ground in La Liga after a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao. Real, unbeaten after three games, stayed behind on goal in 32 minutes of Iker Muniain in a counterattack. Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon retained Real, who opened his UEFA Champions League campaign against Roma at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday, at bay until Isco led Gareth Bale's assist after the hour. The draw put the men of Julen Lopetegui in 10 points, two adrift of Barcelona with Atlético de Madrid, also retreating in the race for the title of the League to draw at home against Eibar.

Seven points are now the gap between Atlético and Barça, who were in danger of stumbling when Aritz Elustondo put Real Sociedad ahead in Anoeta.

But the hosts missed a series of excellent opportunities and paid the price, as two goals in three minutes from Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembele ensured a tough 2-1 victory.

"The league is defined by this type of games," Suarez said later. "Last year we also came back from 2-0 after many years without winning here, the reaction says a lot about this team."

Atlético also recovered, Borja Garces virtually equaling the last kick of the game, but there were no celebrations in the Metropolitan Wanda.

Garcés's attack was enough to rescue a 1-1 draw for the team of Diego Simeone, who seemed headed for the defeat when Eibar's Sergi Enrich packed his home in the 87th minute.

Barcelona could easily have lost points if their opponents had been more clinical.

Mikel Oyarzabal and Theo Hernández could have made it 2-0 after the break, but the first one vanished and Barça goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied it.

In a matter of minutes, they were left behind, as two crosses caused havoc in the defense of Real Sociedad, with Suarez and Dembele perfectly positioned to attack.

Barça coach Ernesto Valverde had made the surprise decision to omit Sergio Busquets from his starting lineup, presumably with the opening match of the Champions League on Tuesday against PSV Eindhoven.

But it was a testament to the performance of the locals that Busquets was summoned in the second period after Philippe Coutinho had also been presented at halftime.

"In the first half, they closed us well but Philippe, who entered the second half, helped change the dynamic," said Suarez.

Simeone would also like to have an eye on his Champions League game against Monaco on Tuesday, but a victory was very necessary after the loss to Celta de Vigo two weeks ago.

Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa, however, were careless in the last third and Eibar could have scored earlier, twice denied by the wood.

It means that Atleti has now recorded its worst start since 2009.

"I would worry if we had not created those opportunities to score," said Simeone. "The team also showed a reaction after their goal, we kept moving forward and we managed to score a point."

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