Find out how Real Sociedad collected all three points from their trip to Rayo Vallecano with Sports Mole's live updates.
By Liam Apicella, Features Editor Filed: Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 10:30 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 17:25 UK
Rayo Vallecano and Real Socieded both needed the three points this afternoon to bolster their chances of qualifying for Europe next season.
As it was, a first-half brace of strikes from Imanol Agirretxe saw visiting Sociedad claim all three points from their trip to the Spanish capital.
You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute commentary below.
10.32amMorning all. While on paper this one may not capture everyone's imagination, there is rather a lot riding on this one. Both Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad have European football in their sights and three points today would go a long way to securing that for next season.
10.34amRight, before we look into what a victory could mean for both outfits, the team news from the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas is just beginning to filter through. Let's start with how the home side will start this one...
10.38amWell, that's a rather attacking starting lineup from Rayo coach Paco Jemez. He's started Brazilian youngster Leo Baptistao, who has been tipped to join Atletico Madrid in the summer, as well as Lass and captain Piti. Spaniard Roberto Trashorras is also included in the heart of midfield.
10.40amSOCIEDAD XI: Bravo; Mikel, De La Bella, C. Martinez, I. Martinez; Prieto, Illarra, Bergara, Agirretxe; Vela, Griezmann
10.43amThere's a familiar face for fans of the Premier League in that Sociedad starting lineup. Former Arsenal frontman Carlos Vela has been given a start, having scored an impressive 13 goals this season. One-club man and captain Xabi Prieto is also included. Despite being a midfielder, the 29-year-old also has a good goalscoring record.
10.48amLeo may have stolen most of the headlines with his performances for Rayo this season, but their skipper Piti has also made a real impression. In the days leading up to this game, he has admitted that his teammates have been thinking about European football:
"We talk about Europe every day in the dressing room and we're going to do everything to make it happen. If we win next Sunday we'll have a much greater chance of achieving it," he said.
"This is one of the most important games of the season because of what we are playing for. They are above us and if we beat them we'll be able to close the gap on them."
10.51amPiti also discussed, albeit briefly, the 4-0 thumping that his side took off Sociedad earlier in the season. Whether you can believe him or not, it doesn't seem that revenge is on the mind of the Rayo players today:
"We just want to prove that we are better than we were then and that we have improved as a team," he said.
10.54amIn the opposite corner when it comes to pre-match chat has been Inigo Martinez. Here is some of what the Soceidad defender had to say about this fixture:
The game in Vallecas is as important to us as it is to them and it'll be a real dogfight. We go into the game in a good form and we are fighting to get into the Champions League so it's vital we do a good job there," he told Union Rayo.
10.58amRight, the players are in the tunnel. When the emerge, they will do so onto a sun-drenched pitch. A quick Google check shows that it is around 17 degrees Celsius in Madrid at the moment. I can think of worse places to play your football, that's for sure!
1 minGAME ON! Here we go then. Hosting Vallecano, kicking from right to left, get this encounter off and running.
4 minFor such a little ground, there really is a cracking atmosphere inside the Estadio de Vallecas. You could argue that Rayo are Madrid's fourth club behind Real, Atletico and Getafe. Even so, the supporters have turned up in large numbers today, which is great to see.
7 minWow - where did that come from?! A long clearance from goalkeeper Bravo is brilliantly controlled by Frenchman Antoine Griezmann on the left wing. His low pass eventually picks out Imanol Agirretxe, who gets ahead of his marker to put the visitors in front with a neat low finish. That's his eighth goal of the season and it has silenced the home support somewhat.
9 minBOOKING! An early yellow card for Carlos Vela, who is now walking a tightrope. Replays show that it is harsh on the formal Arsenal striker because he clearly won the ball from his challenge with Piti. A poor decision from the match official.
12 minSome credit should go to the home support because after the initial shock of that early goal, they are chanting away again. It's making for a really good atmosphere, but there team are yet to respond. If anything, the visitors look the more likely to score the game's second goal.
15 minJust as I say that, they do indeed score a second and it is far too easy from a Rayo point of view. Prieto is given so much space to the left of the area and he drills in a cross for a waiting Agirretxe, who has the simplest of tasks to roll the ball into the net from six yards out. It's an uphill task for the home team now.
17 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Well, this is dramatic. Rayo coach Paco Jemez is not happy at all and has made two alterations already! Lass and Tito are hooked, with Jose Carlos and Arbilla taking their places. I'm not sure I've ever seen a coach make such a drastic change so early in an encounter.
22 minWe keep getting treated to shots of Rayo coach Jemez, who is immaculately dressed in a suit and tie may I add! He's so animated down there on the touchline, and not in a good way as far as his players will be concerned! If things don't change before half-time, I wouldn't want to be in that home dressing room. He looks a scary chap to say the least!
25 minHalf a chance for Rayo is wasted as Leo is able to get to the byline. The hosts have two against one inside the area, but the Brazilian striker's cross is lacking in accuracy, which gives Carlos Martinez the chance to head clear the danger. That's poor from the youngster, who we've come to expect so much more from over the last few months.
30 minBOOKING! What an earth is this referee doing? Fuego makes a fantastic challenge on Vela down in the corner flag, which results in the linesman rightly flagging for a corner. The man in the middle has other ideas though and books Fuego for a foul! Understandably, the Rayo vice-captain looks a little perplexed. How the referee has a better view there than his assistant is beyond me.
34 minSociedad have done a really good job so far. Having opened up a two-goal lead, they've kept the ball extremely well and soaked up any Rayo pressure. You can't rule them out adding more goals either because on the counter-attack with the likes of Vela and Prieto, they look extremely dangerous. It's been the complete away performance.
38 minTo be fair to Vallecano and their coach, that early double substitution has stemmed the tide a bit. However, it hasn't given them much more of a threat in the attacking third. So often a danger this season, Leo has cut a forlorn figure up front on his own. He needs some support because at the moment it's four on one when Rayo get forward.
42 minCHANCE! What an opportunity for Leo. I just demanded that he get some help and Piti provides it when he cuts in from the left and drills over a cross for the young striker. The ball beats Bravo all ends up and it looks as though Leo has the most simple of tap ins. Step forward Alberto de la Bella, who throws himself in the way to send the ball over the bar from six yards out. That's fantastic defending, but Leo will feel that he should have scored.
44 minBOOKING! I may have been critical of the referee so far, but he's got this yellow card spot on. Asier Illarramendi looks to move down the right wing, but his route is blocked by Rayo's Piti, who wipes his feet out from underneath him. The clearest caution you will ever see.
11.50amWell, it couldn't have gone much worse during that opening 45 minutes for Rayo. They were second best for virtually all of it and should be thankful that they only trail 2-0. If they are to get anything from this encounter, they must start committing more men forward because Leo is far too isolated. Time for coach Jemez to earn his money.
11.53amWhere Sociedad are concerned, they've been really impressive. With performances like that, you can see why they are one of the leading contenders to qualify for the Champions League. Their attacking trio of Agirretxe, Vela and Griezmann have been on top of their game. If Rayo do commit more men forward, you can see the visitors adding one or two more on the counter-attack.
11.58amShould Sociedad hold out here, they will have put four points between themselves and Malaga in fifth. With seven matches left to play, that is a handy margin to have. Got to admit it would be great to see them back in the big time after several years in the wilderness. Back in the early 2000s they were a real force in Spain with players like Xabi Alonso and Nihat.
45 minAnyway, we are back underway in Madrid. Let's hope that Rayo can have more of impact in the second 45 minutes for the sake of the match. Sociedad get us restarted.
49 minSAVE! A dodgy moment at the start of the second half for Sociedad goalkeeper Bravo, who fails to hold a swerving effort from distance by substitute Jose Carlos. Leo is lurking inside the area, but Bravo is able to recover quickly enough to hold at the second attempt.
53 minCHANCE! At least Rayo are making a fist of things now. Alejandro Dominguez is the latest to try his luck with a free kick from 25 yards out. His pacey effort goes over the wall, but also just flies over the crossbar. Had that been on target, I'm not sure that Bravo would have got there.
55 minBOOKING! A third booking for Rayo and it is their centre-back Alex Galvez. Clumsy is the best word to describe his challenge on Vela, who ends up flat out on his back after being clattered by the home defender.
59 minWe've just seen that Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is in the crowd today. He will have been impressed with what he has seen from a number of Sociedad players. Two goals from Agirretxe certainly won't have hurt his chances of receiving a call-up. Reports have also suggested that full-back De La Bella is of interest to the national boss.
61 minBOOKING! This referee really is attached to his yellow card. It seems that every time there is a foul, a caution follows. Rayo's Argentine midfielder Dominguez is the man who receives the card for clipping Vela, who goes down rather dramatically it has to be said.
62 minSUBSTITUTION: It's a final switch for hosting Rayo as midfielder Trashorras is given a rest and on in his place comes Andrija Delibasic. The striker should be well known to England supporters, having scored for Montenegro against them back in 2011 during a 2-2 draw.
65 minThey may have started this second half well, but since then Rayo have been disappointing. They are 2-0 down at home and yet there doesn't seem to be much urgency about their play.
68 minCHANCE! Quite simply, Agirretxe should be heading back home with the match ball tucked under his arm. The Vallecano defence goes walkabouts, leaving the striker all alone eight yards from goal. However, he was unable to match his clinical exploits from earlier in the game and can only send the ball over the crossbar. Disappointing from the Sociedad frontman.
72 minBOOKING! Another foul and guess what? Another booking! It's Rayo's Fuego who receives the caution for pulling back Illarramendi in the centre of the pitch. I cannot help but feel that a free kick would have been enough of a punishment.
76 minBOOKING! This is getting very silly now. Referees surely cannot book someone just for making a foul, can they?! Sociedad's Illarramendi receives the caution on this occasion for a foul on Dominguez. Yes it's a foul, but it was genuine attempt to win the ball. It didn't warrant a yellow card, that's for sure.
78 minSUBSTITUTIONS: A double switch for the away side as Vela and the recently booked Illarramendi are given a breather. Both of those had very good games this afternoon. On in their places come Castro and Elustondo.
81 minCHANCE! Almost an immediate impact from Elustondo, who runs onto a brilliant through pass by De La Bella. He's just got Ruben in the home goal to beat, but his finish is lacking in composure as the ball skids well wide of the target. One more goal for the away side would really rubber-stamp the outcome here.
84 minSUBSTITUTION: Final switch of the encounter for Sociedad as Prieto is given a rest. He's earned it as well with a tireless performance in the midfield. On in his place is Uruguayan attacker Diego Ifran.
88 minSociedad are easing to victory here. They are keeping the ball well and to be honest, the Rayo players even seem to have accepted defeat. It's been a disappointing outing for the home team.
90 minWe will have three added minutes at the end of the second half...
12.50pmThe travelling supporters are jubilant and so they should be. They've seen their team put in a very, very good away performance this afternoon. What's more, they are also a step closer to returning to the Champions League. What a great story that would be after a few years of turmoil. Rayo, meanwhile, were disappointing. Even at 2-0 down they failed to show enough urgency to get back into the contest.
12.51pmThat's all we have time for from the Spanish capital, but be sure to join us later for live coverage of Atletico Madrid's home clash with Granada. We will get underway at 3.30pm. Until then, goodbye.