Carlos Vela gives Sociedad draw at Elche: La Liga
Espanyol rallies against Valencia
Carlos Vela scored a 75th-minute equalizer Saturday to give Real Sociedad a 1-1 draw at Elche in Spain, keeping the Basque side undefeated before it completes a critical playoff to reach the Champions League group stage.
Also, Espanyol fought back to beat Valencia 3-1 at Cornella-El Prat Stadium for its first victory of the Spanish league season.
Elche struck two minutes in when Ferran "Coro" Corominas tapped in a corner kick earned from the hosts' pressure that continued to cause Sociedad problems through the first half.
Early at Martinez Valero Stadium, Sociedad appeared to be looking ahead to Wednesday when it hosts Lyon with a 2-0 advantage heading into their second leg with Europe's top tier club competition at stake.
Elche went close to scoring again through headers by Alberto Botia and Manuel del Moral on either side of halftime, and was on course for its first win in the topflight for 25 years after being promoted last spring.
But Sociedad slowly pushed Elche onto its back foot, and Vela was left unmarked to volley in Xabi Prieto's cross for his second goal in as many league games.
The Mexico forward nearly took the full three points for Sociedad with a curling strike from outside the area that clipped the bar two minutes from time.
Espanyol created three clear scoring opportunities before Valencia's Helder Postiga snatched the 10th-minute opener.
The goal, however, didn't change the flow of the match, and Espanyol defender David Lopez headed in Simao Sabrosa's corner kick in the 31st.
Christian Stuani headed Espanyol in front two minutes after the break, jumping and redirecting a free kick by Juan Fuentes off the post and into the net.
Forward Thievy Bifouma sealed the result in the 89th with his second goal in two games coming of Espanyol's bench after an excellent dribble and assist by Manuel Lanzarote.
Later, Villarreal hosts Valladolid looking for a second straight win in its return to the first division.
On Friday, Athletic Bilbao beat Osasuna 2-0, while Getafe drew 2-2 at home with Almeria.
Barcelona visits Malaga Sunday with Lionel Messi unavailable after injuring his leg midweek in a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Also, Atletico faces Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla travels to Levante, and Real Betis plays Celta.
Real Madrid visits Granada on Monday.