Vinicius Junior scored a late equaliser to salvage a point for Real Madrid at home to Real Sociedad as the defending champions missed the chance to keep the pressure on Atletico Madrid.
A win for Los Blancos would have taken them within three points of their city rivals at the top of La Liga ahead of Sunday’s Madrid derby, but Imanol Alguacil’s side came away from the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano with a well-earned draw.
Mariano Diaz was handed a rare start with Karim Benzema still missing through injury and the 27-year-old struck the crossbar with a header from close range that should have found the back of the net.
Opinion: Varane can be Man Utd's most transformative defender since Rio Ferdinand
A change to a back three by Zinedine Zidane for the start of the second backfired, with La Real handed the initiative and using it to break the deadlock as Portu headed home a Nacho Monreal cross at the back post.
Zidane introduced Hugo Duro, Rodrygo and Vinicius off the bench as he tried to turn the contest around and it was the latter who made the difference, finishing a Lucaz Vazquez cross in the 89th minute to snatch a point for the hosts.
While the late equaliser saw Real Madrid avoid defeat, they remain in third place, behind Barcelona on goal difference and five points behind Atletico Madrid who also hold a game in hand.
TALKING POINT - Does anyone want to win La Liga this season?
This was a chance for Real Madrid to truly apply pressure on Atletico Madrid for the first time this season. A win would have seen them stay within three points of their rivals ahead of the Madrid derby on Sunday, but they couldn’t grasp that opportunity. Factor in Atleti’s stuttering form of late and Barcelona’s failure to achieve any sort of consistency, it seems nobody in Spain wants to win La Liga this season.
'Real Madrid dominated' - Zidane frustrated after draw with Sociedad
MAN OF THE MATCH - Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
Isco shone in the first half while Monreal and Portu impressed for the visitors to Valdebebas, but Toni Kroos was the one who did more than anyone else to influence this match. While Zidane hooked the likes of Isco and Luka Modric as Real Madrid chased an equaliser late on, the German midfielder was kept on to pull the strings from deep, although he also burst into a number of dangerous positions. Kroos has hit a rich vein of form in 2021 and this was an illustration of how important he still is to Real Madrid.
Real Madrid: Courtois 5, Vazquez 7, Nacho 6, Varane 6, Mendy 6, Kroos 8, Casemiro 7, Modric 5, Isco 8, Asensio 5, Mariano 5.
Subs: Valverde 7, Vinicius 7, Duro 5, Rodrygo 6.
Real Sociedad: Remiro 6, Gorosabel 7, Zubeldia 6, Le Normand 6, Monreal 8, Guevara 5, Zubimendi 7, Portu 8, Silva 6, Oyarzabal 5, Isak 6.
Subs: Fernandez 5, Sagnan 4, Munoz 4, Barrenetxea 5.
25’ Off the bar! Inches away from an opener for Real Madrid! First, Vazquez's cross is met by Mariano, but he heads against the crossbar and then Asensio lashes the rebound wide of the post!
55’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Real Sociedad: The breakthrough has been made and Real Sociedad have opened the scoring! The visitors had started the second half well and now they have the lead! Monreal plays a cross to the back post, Portu has a lot to do, but he finds the far corner of the net with a header!
89’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Real Sociedad: Vinicius has scored late on! He might just have rescued a point for Real Madrid! The cross came in from Vazquez down the right side, the ball bounced through to Vinicius and the Brazilian lashed a finish into the back of the net!
Real Madrid managed just two shots on target against Real Sociedad despite attempting 20 shots in total.
Portu has now been directly involved in 10 La Liga goals for Real Sociedad this season (seven goals and three assists), equalling his tally from last season.
Ferdinand backs Varane to star in Premier League
Varane to Man Utd is Real’s next step in plan to sign Mbappe – Paper Round