With one strike in the 90th minute, Imanol Agirretxe provided perhaps the most shocking result of the 2012-13 La Liga season. It was that goal by Agirretxe that gave Real Sociedad a 3-2 victory over Barcelona on Saturday, sending the formerly undefeated juggernaut home with their most disappointing match of the season.
Early on, it looked as if the match would go as expected. Carving their way through the Real Sociedad defense, Blaugrana got on the board early in the most expected way possible—a Lionel Messi goal. The reigning Ballon d'Or trophy winner sent a beautiful left-footed shot past Claudio Bravo to put Barcelona ahead 1-0 in the seventh minute.
For Messi, that was his 10th-straight game in La Liga with a goal, which ties the record of Mariano Martin and Ronaldo, according to ESPN's Paul Carr:
Lionel Messi scores in his 10th straight La Liga game, tying record of Mariano Martin & (Brazilian) Ronaldo.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 19, 2013
Barca wasn't done dominating the first half after Messi's strike. After a brilliant attack put Barcelona deep in Real Sociedad's zone, Pedro knocked a short shot down the middle of the goal in the 25th minute. With Barca up 2-0 within the first third of the match, it looked as if Real Sociedad's best hope was to simply avoid allowing any more scores for goal differential's sake.
That was, until a Gonzalo Castro goal in the 41st minute changed the course of the entire match. In one of the rare early opportunities, the Real Sociedad midfielder smacked home a goal to send his team into the halftime break, down 2-1.
Though momentum oftentimes fades after the intermission, that did not happen on Saturday. Perhaps spurred by the Castro's critical goal, Sociedad came out in the second half looking to score goals on every possible opportunity.
Despite only having possession 32 percent of the match, Sociedad seemingly got deep into Barcelona's zone any time they wanted. Peppering the Barcelona defense with a barrage of shots—some of which were admittedly ill-timed—Sociedad was able to keep their more talented opponents reeling throughout the second half.
After taking seven shots in the first 45 minutes, Barcelona were stuck going toward a noticeably conservative attack following intermission. They took just one shot in the second half, constantly holding the ball and looking like they were the heavy underdog.
Eventually, Sociedad's aggressiveness paid off. Castro again found the back of the net in the 62nd minute, almost from the exact same spot in the Barcelona box, and Agirretxe's goal in the waning seconds finished the job.
The loss was the first of the season for Barcelona, a team who looked like it may rampage through their schedule undefeated. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Saturday was just the second time in 121 league games that Barcelona lost when Messi scored:
Barcelona loses for just the 2nd time in 121 league games when Lionel Messi scores (other was to Atlético Madrid in March 2009)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 19, 2013
Despite the shocking defeat, BrilaFM Sports Radio's Twitter feed may have assuaged the fears of Barcelona fans everywhere by citing their stellar record this season:
Barcelona's record in 33 official matches this season: 27W, 3D, 3L - Goals: 96-35, 11 Clean Sheets, Avg Ball Pos: 66.7 percent— Sports Radio BrilaFM (@889BrilaFM) January 19, 2013
To his credit, Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova was gracious following his team's loss, choosing to applaud Real Sociedad rather than disparage his team (per Barca Stuff's Twitter feed):
Vilanova: "Congrats to Real Sociedad, their win is more due to them playing, than to us not playing well." #fcblive— barcastuff (@barcastuff) January 19, 2013
Will the Barca fans be as gracious losing what should have been an easy three table points? That, very much, remains to be seen.
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