Sociedad's Remiro rocks the boat as Real Madrid drop points in title race
Madrid, Jan 29, 2023 (AFP) - Real Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro made a string of fine saves to frustrate Real Madrid in a 0-0 draw Sunday, leaving Barcelona five points clear at the top of La Liga.
After the Catalans beat Girona on Saturday Madrid needed to win to stay three points behind their rivals in the title race, but Remiro ensured otherwise, keeping third-place La Real on the champions' tail.
Vinicius Junior had three good chances repelled by Remiro among other Madrid openings, as Carlo Ancelotti's side sparkled but failed to find the goal their performance deserved.
The draw continues a mixed start to 2023 for Real Madrid, slipping further behind Barcelona in the league and losing against them in the Spanish Super Cup final, but reaching the Copa del Rey semis on Thursday with an extra-time win over Atletico Madrid.
"It was a very nice game for those watching, it's just a shame that we had the clearest chances and we didn't put them away, the draw is a pity," Madrid defender Nacho told Movistar.
"Remiro and La Real are having a brilliant season, they are a great team and they showed it here.
"Not winning leaves a bad taste in the mouth for us, but the (season) goes on, there's a long way to go."
Real Sociedad, still without playmakers David Silva and Mikel Merino, threatened on the break but the hosts controlled the game at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Madrid constructed some slick moves in the first half, with Brazilian wingers Vinicius and Rodrygo incessant threats.
The former curled inches wide after a sensational nutmeg on Igor Zubeldia, while the latter teed up Karim Benzema with a backheel, but Remiro saved comfortably.
Ancelotti started with Eduardo Camavinga playing out of position at left-back because of injuries elsewhere, and the former Rennes midfielder thrived.
Rodrygo's superb dribbling gave Aihen Munoz a constant headache on Madrid's right flank as the hosts dominated.
Vinicius should have opened the scoring before the break but his shot was well kept out by Remiro, the visitors' last line of defence.
Remiro made another smart save from the Brazilian winger early in the second half with his leg to keep his team level, while Fede Valverde hammered a shot wide from distance as Madrid flowed forward.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was called into serious action for the first time after an hour when Takefusa Kubo broke free on the right, but the Belgian got down well to deny him.
Vinicius was foiled once more by the excellent Remiro, who pushed away the Brazilian's attempted lob after cleverly accelerating into the box.
Ancelotti threw on Luka Modric and Marco Asensio in the final stages, in search of the winning goal Madrid craved but could not find.
Remiro was booked for time-wasting in stoppage time as he eked out every second at a goal kick to clinch a hard-fought point for Real Sociedad, still three points behind Madrid.
Despite the result, the manner of the performance encouraged Ancelotti.
"We played a complete game, the team is improving, growing, physically they are a lot better," Ancelotti told Movistar.
"We did well with and without the ball, pressing high. It was a complete performance, but we didn't score.
"It's a draw that leaves me satisfied because the team played very well."