Evening all! The first of our three back-to-back live commentaries from La Liga comes from the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero as newly-promoted Elche
welcome Sociedad. As mentioned, Elche began their campaign last weekend with a 3-0 defeat against Rayo Vallecano, but Sociedad were 2-0 winners on their home patch against Getafe.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, Elche have just shaded the last five matches with two wins to Sociedad’s one and the remaining two ending in a draw. As mentioned, Elche recorded a 4-1 win the last time the two sides met at this stadium in June 2010, but they were also 1-0 winners at Sociedad in January of the same season.
ELCHE: Manu Herrera; Sapunaru, Botia, Lomban, Albacar; Perez, Carlos Sanchez, Coro, Carles Gil, Fidel; Manu del Moral
SOCIEDAD: Bravo; Estrada, Martinez, Cadamuro, De La Bella; Granero, Elustondo, Pardo; Castro, Vela, Seferovic
So there we have it. No real surprises in the Elche XI this evening, but Ruben Perez does come in for his first start after joining on loan from Atletico Madrid. Sevilla loan duo Alberto Botia and Manu del Moral also start. Sociedad, meanwhile, are without Antoine Griezmann, but Esteban Granero comes in to the side after joining from Queens Park Rangers last week.
The fact that Sociedad were operating in the second tier of Spanish football the last time they faced Elche is an indication of just how far they have come. The European hopefuls, who finished fourth in the table last season, gave their chances of making the group stages of the Champions League a major boost with a 2-0 win over Lyon in France last week.
As mentioned, Elche earned the right to play La Liga football this season after storming to the Segunda Division title in the previous campaign. They won 23 of their 42 matches, securing 82 points in the process, a total which left them five points clear of nearest challenges Villarreal. However, you have to worry about their lack of goals.
Elche scored just 54 times in their 42 league games last season, which was 14 less than Villarreal and 18 less than Almeria. To put it into context, Huesca, who were relegated, scored just eight fewer than Elche. Their defensive record allowed them to top the league, but they will not be able to boast such an impressive goals-against tally this season.
They will also not take too much confidence from their opening match of the season last weekend as they were comfortably beaten 3-0 by a weakened Rayo Vallecano side. They have added the likes of Manu del Moral, Miroslav Stevanovic and Alberto Botia, who were all allowed to join on loan from Sevilla this summer, but it appears they will be in for a long hard season.
The same cannot be said for Sociedad, who will once more be hopeful of securing a place in the top four this season. They edged Valencia out by one point last season to join Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League positions. Their away form was quite patchy last term, however, with eight wins, five draws and six defeats from their 19 matches.
Right, we are just about two minutes from kickoff on this warm evening in Spain. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged, just about time for my pre-match prediction. Elche's home form will decide their placing in the table this season, but I think Sociedad will have too much for them in this particular match.
Just a reminder of the main team news. Perez comes in for his first start for Elche since joining on loan from Atletico Madrid. Manu del Moral also starts, but Aaron Niguez drops to the bench. Sociedad, meanwhile, are without Griezmann, but Seferovic comes into the team alongside Carlos Vela
. Right, the away side get the action underway.
GOAL! Elche 1-0 Sociedad (Coro)
Wow, what a start from Elche! Coro comes close to finding the back of the net moments before, but is denied by the Sociedad goalkeeper. Coro is not denied at the second time of asking, however, as the Spaniard bundles home from close range following a dangerous corner from Manu. Elche lead inside two minutes.
Elche were very strong on their home patch last season, while they also had comfortably the best defensive record in the second division. However, three of their back four are new to the side this season. Sociedad have been unable to put together any sort of possession thus far with Elche utterly dominating. What a start from the newly-promoted outfit.
Just a reminder that Seferovic is in attack for Sociedad this evening. The Swiss, who joined the club in the summer, has scored two goals in two games thus far this season. He looks a real shrewd acquisition. Neither side has been able to settle thus far with the challenges flying in. It has been an explosive opening six minutes to proceedings.
The first yellow card of the match is handed to Botia as the Elche defender fells Pardo in the middle of the pitch. The resulting free kick if floated into the box by Vela, but Lomban is on hand to clear the danger. You just get the feeling that Elche need to keep it tight for the next 10 or so minutes. A goal for Sociedad at this stage would certainly make them favourites to push on.
Good pressure from the home side in the last couple of moments with Fidel and Manu forcing two corners in quick succession. However, the first is headed behind by De La Bella before Botia heads the second over the crossbar. It must be said that the atmosphere is just sensational inside the stadium this evening.
Not too much from the away side in the opening 12 minutes of football with Granero and Pardo struggling to get their foot on the ball in midfield. In truth, Elche were really poor against Rayo Vallecano last weekend, but they look a different side in this one. They still lead courtesy of that strike from Coro with two minutes on the clock.
CHANCE! Wonderful opportunity for the home side to add their second as Gil drives into the box before finding Fidel, his effort appears destined for the bottom corner, but Inigo Martinez is across to make a fine block at the vital moment. Sociedad were impressive in defence last season, but they have already been opened up a couple of times this evening.
Big penalty shout for Elche as Cadamuro appears to shoulder charge Coro inside the box, but the referee is not interested. Sociedad have possession down the other end moments later with Pardo, but he cannot find the run of Vela. The opening 17 minutes of this La Liga fixture have just flown past.
Elche continue to force the issue with a couple of corners in quick succession, but Sociedad manage to clear on both occasions. Without sounding like a broken record, the Elche supporters have vowed to be the most vocal in the league this season, well they are giving it a good go thus far. Sociedad are not sure what has hit them.
Half-chance for Vela as the Mexican collects a through pass from Pardo before driving into the box, but Herrera is out to make the save. Elche do manage to clear the danger, but the referee had seemingly already blown for handball. That will at least five the away side a little bit of confidence. They have not been in the game with 22 minutes on the clock.
Half-chance for the home side this time as Fidel collects possession outside the box before attempting to find the top corner, but it was always rising high and wide of the target. Sociedad are down the other end moments later with Granero, but the on-loan QPR midfielder cannot find the run of Seferovic, who had beaten the offside trap.
It's good work from Castro as the Sociedad midfielder picks the pocket of Botia before advancing to the edge of the Elche box, but he fires his effort straight into the arms of Herrera, when he might have found Vela with a simply pass. A free kick presents the home side with an opportunity down the other end, but Martinez clears the danger.
CHANCE! De La Bella becomes the latest Sociedad player to enter the book for a late challenge on Perez. The resulting free kick is taken by Albacer, with Botia making contact with the delivery, but he can only plant his header wide of the post when he should have found the back of the net. Elche could and should be 2-0 ahead with 28 minutes on the clock.
Good spell for Sociedad in the last couple of moments with Vela and Pardo seeing more of the ball in and around the Elche box. Martinez takes matters into his own hands with a threaded pass into the opposing box, but Herrera manages to claim, before Seferovic is crowded out in the penalty area moments later.
Not too much to report in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of losing possession too easily in the opposing half. Fidel attempts to force the issue for the home side with a high cross into the box, but Bravo is out to claim. Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining.
It's good invention from Manu as the striker collects possession outside the Sociedad box before sliding a pass towards Sapunaru, but Bravo just manages to clear at the vital moment. The atmosphere has just dropped in the last few minutes with neither side creating too much, but Elche will not mind with their lead still in tact.
Sociedad's frustrations continue as Martinez picks up a yellow card for a really poor challenge on Coro. There is just a danger that they could lose a player in the latter stages of the half, which would be a big boost for the home side. The resulting free kick is whipped towards goal by Albacer, but his effort is high and wide of the post.
It has not been an overly-physical contest between these two sides, but we have had five yellow cards thus far. It's better from Sociedad as they work the ball from left to right before Vela delivers a low cross into the box, but the danger is cleared once more. Little over five minutes of the first period remaining.
It's good work from Gil as the Elche forward dances his way into the box before finding the run of Coro, but his effort is high and wide of the target when he perhaps should have done better. Sociedad have been really disappointing in the first period. Has their Champions League exploits in midweek taken it out of them?
In truth, not too much has happened in the last 15 minutes or so with both sides comfortable in possession, but without really threatening to add to the score. Vela takes matters into his own hands with a low cross into the Elche box, but there are no takers, much to the frustration of the Mexican, who has been quiet thus far.
Martinez is a lucky, lucky boy as he completely missed the ball before fouling Coro, but the referee takes no action. In my opinion, he could have walked for a second yellow there. Bitty end to the half with constant free kicks interrupting the flow of football.
HALF-TIME: Elche 1-0 Sociedad
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Elche leading courtesy of a strike from Coro inside two minutes. The home side do not look like a team that will be fighting to stay in the division this season. Sociedad, meanwhile, have been poor following their exploits in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.
BENCH WATCH: The home side have a number of attacking options on the bench in the shape of Aaron Niguez, Javi Flores and Tono. Meanwhile, Sociedad have the likes of Javi Ros, Xabi Prieto and Marco Sangalli in reserve. They are without Griezmann, however, who is out with a groin injury.
You just get the feeling that Elche need to keep it tight in the early stages of the second period if they are stand a chance of claiming three points this evening. As poor as Sociedad have been, they will improve in the second half. Meanwhile, Elche will always give teams chances in the final third.
Here we go then. Both sides join us on the pitch for the second period. No changes for either side at the interval, which is not a surprise at this stage of proceedings, but I expect that will change as the half gathers pace. Elche are 45 minutes away from their first three points in Spain's top division for 25 years. The home side get the half underway.
Just a reminder that there are two more La Liga fixtures this evening. Following this match we have action from Espanyol as the home side welcome Valencia, before Villarreal host Real Valladolid in the 10pm start. Be sure to stick with us and you will not miss a kick in La Liga. Right, fairly cagey start to the second period in Elche with Sociedad enjoying possession in their own half.
It's good work from Gil as the Elche forward drives past two defenders before attempting to feed a low cross into the box, but De La Bella is across to make the challenge. Seferovic wins a corner down the other end moments later, but it comes to nothing with Herrera claiming the delivery from Granero.
Castro takes matters into his own hands for the home side as he drives down the left before finding Granero on the edge of the Elche box, but Lomban is out to block at the vital moment. Sociedad have men over on the counter moments later, but Vela has his pocket picked by Fidel.
Sociedad have just started to pick up the pace in the last few moments with Vela and Castro enjoying more of the ball in the wide positions. However, Seferovic has struggled to get into the game thus far. I emphasise the phrase 'thus far' with still more than 35 minutes of football remaining. I would be astounded if we had seen the last of the goals this evening.
Again it's good work from the away side as the ball is worked from left to right before Castro has an effort from the edge of the box, but his strike is high and wide of the target. The attacking intent from Elche has just dropped in the past few moments with the home side starting to retreat deeper and deeper.
CHANCE! It's brilliant work from Fidel as the Elche winger beats his full-back before finding the head of Manu inside the box, but the forward plants his effort wide of the post. Sociedad have a free kick outside the Elche box moments later, but Seferovic's effort is high and wide of the target.
Sociedad make their first change of the match as Prieto enters the field in place of Pardo, who has struggled to impact proceedings in the second period. You just get the feeling that Elche would be made to pay for their defensive outlook since the interval. Little under 30 minutes of football remaining in this La Liga fixture.
Sociedad continue to force the issue inside the Elche box with Vela and Castro both having efforts from outside the box, but Herrera is equal to the danger on each occasion. Seferovic attempts to mix it up moments later with a clipped cross to the back post, but once more the danger is cleared. The pressure is rising there is no question about that.
Elche make their first change of the match as Aaron Niguez enters the field in place of Manu, who has struggled to make an impact, especially in the second period. Sociedad continue to force the issue in the wide areas, but Elche remain strong despite two dangerous corners from Vela in quick succession.
It is a case of anywhere will do for the home side at the moment as they continue to clear the danger on each occasion. However, the respite is not lasting long with Sociedad coming straight back. I would be surprised if we did not see Zurutuza introduced in the next five or so minutes. The Spaniard would certainly provide a link between the midfield and forwards.
CHANCE! Best opportunity of the second period for the away side as Vela collects possession inside the box before attempting to curl an effort towards the bottom corner, but Herrera is across to make a fine save. I suspect that he will have more to do in the final 20 minutes of football. Sociedad do finally make the change as Zurutuza replaces Castro.
Not too much to report in the last couple of minutes with Elche pressing Sociedad into their own half. You can almost sense the nervousness inside the stadium, however, with around 18 minutes of normal time remaining. Elche's attacking threat has just disappeared in the second period, while Sociedad have been stronger.
It's bright work from Albacer as the Elche left-back bursts into the Sociedad half before rolling a low cross towards Coro, but Martinez is out to clear at the vital moment. Vela carries the threat down the other end moments later, but once more his pass is too long for Seferovic. End-to-end football with 75 minutes on the clock.
GOAL! Elche 1-1 Sociedad (Vela)
Sociedad have their equaliser! It's fortuitous to say the least as Vela's effort bobbles into the bottom corner from close range. You cannot say that it is not deserved. Elche make an immediate change as Sanchez is replaced by Rivera.
It will be nothing short of a disaster if Elche end up losing this match there is no question about that. Sociedad make their third change of the match, meanwhile, as Seferovic, who has struggled this evening, is replaced by Marco Sangalli, who has made the step up from the B side this season. Can he make an impact in the final 10 minutes or so?
Vela again forces the issue for Sociedad as the Mexican beats two defenders before delivering a low cross into the box, but Prieto cannot make contact under pressure from Botia. On the balance of play, a draw would be just about correct, but you just get the feeling that there is another goal in this one with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
Elche look to their bench for the third and final time this evening as Alvaro enters the field in place of Coro, whose goal gave Elche the lead with two minutes on the clock. The home side attempt to break moments later with Gil, but it appears that they have just run out of legs in the latter stages.
Half-chance for Granero to send Sociedad into the lead as he settles himself outside the box before striking an effort towards the bottom corner, but he just drags it wide of the post. It is simply all one-way traffic at the moment with Elche struggling to get out of their own half. Can they hold on?
Not too much to report in the last couple of moments with Elche just taking the sting out of proceedings as we approach the final couple of moments. Zurutuza attempts to force the issue with a dangerous cross into the box, but Herrera is out to collect under pressure from Sangalli.
The referee has been forced into action in the last couple of moments as the challenges continue to fly in from both sides. It does appear that both teams have settled for a share of the spoils as the 90th minute draws ever closer. On the balance of play, it is difficult to argue that a point is not a fair result.
CROSSBAR! Vela comes close to winning it for the away side as he collects possession outside the box before thumping an effort towards the top corner, but it smashes off the crossbar. He has been their standout player in the second period.
FULL-TIME: Elche 1-1 Sociedad
So there we have it. The referee brings the match to a close with both sides sharing the points in a 1-1 draw. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to remain with us for Espanyol against Valencia. Until then!