BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Carlos Vela skillfully chested down a long pass before firing in Real Sociedad's injury-time winner to snatch a dramatic 2-1 win at home over Espanyol in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Vela's 13th goal in league play allowed Sociedad to rise into provisional sixth place, and moved the Basque club closer to clinching a Europa League berth.
"This victory ... almost books our place in Europe" Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate said. "Vela wasn't having his best day, but that doesn't bother him and he is able to score a goal like he did. He is a player that makes the difference."
Sociedad hemmed Espanyol into its area from the start, pushing the action into its final third of the pitch.
But Espanyol striker Jhon Cordoba's solo effort put the visitors ahead at Anoeta Stadium in the 26th minute, when he quickly spun around Mikel Gonzalez before slotting the ball past goalie Claudio Bravo.
Sergio Canales leveled in the 32nd when his cross took a deflection off the back of Espanyol's Manuel Lanzarote, catching goalie Kiko Casilla wrong-footed.
The match looked destined to end in a draw until Vela used a deft touch to control a lobbed pass and slip the ball by defender Juan Fuentes before firing in the late winner.
Also, Valencia forward Jonas went on in the second half and scored to secure a 1-1 draw at Osasuna, while Getafe stayed in the drop zone after a 0-0 draw at Levante.
Valencia can focus on preparing for its visit to Sevilla on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League semifinal.
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