It was the added time of the late Sunday fixture and some fans in San Sebastián had already left the stadium. Albeit an entertaining game, the match between Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid seemed to end in a goalless draw.
It would’ve been a fair result for two teams who had tried to win, but had been unable to break down the other’s defence.
It also seemed like Atleti were about to lose La Liga’s top spot as their amazing run of nine consecutive wins was about to come to an end.
In that very moment, the one man who has amazed us time and time again, managed to surprise us once more.
With a fantastic free kick, Radamel Falcao earned the full three points for the Colchoneros in round eight of La Liga.
It was end-to-end stuff at Anoeta on Sunday night, with the home team showing their intentions early on. Just 12 seconds had passed when Antoine Griezmann already fired the first shot at Thibaut Courtois, and many more would follow by the tricky Frenchman.
Both teams often tried their luck from distance, with Adrián for Atleti and Vela for La Real both giving it a go from outside the box.
Atlético’s first good opportunity came after half an hour, when Mario swung in a cross for Raúl García. The Pamplonan couldn’t position himself behind the ball and headed wide.
Possibly Atleti’s most important header was made by Radamel Falcao. He dove to the ball in typical fashion, although this time it was to miraculously prevent a goal instead of scoring one. The Colombian helped out his own goalkeeper, who seemed to have no chance in the rebound after unsuccessfully boxing a cross away.
In the minutes before the break La Real increased their pressure and won a series of set pieces. After one free kick, they were wrongfully denied a penalty after a clear Gabi hand ball was missed by the referee. Earlier on Atleti too had claimed a spot kick, when Miranda volleyed the ball against an opponent’s hands.
The second half showed more of the same, with Falcao missing the rebound to a Koke shot, while just seconds earlier Filipe stopped a quick break by Sociedad with a last ditch tackle.
Attempts from long range by Griezmann and Rojiblanco sub Cristian Rodríguez were shot straight at both goalkeepers.
Atleti were nearly helped to a goal as Mikel seemed to have his colours mixed up, but goalie Zubikarai pulled off an amazing save to prevent an own goal.
In the final minutes, with both teams still looking for the win, the game opened up. After a mistake by Juanfran, it seemed that Carlos Vela would again put the lights out for Atlético. Last season the Mexican ended our Champions League aspirations, this time he had La Real’s biggest opportunity to secure the win. But Vela had to finish with his weaker right foot and wasted the opportunity.
With one of his first touches substitute Chori Castro nearly won the game, but his shot went wide.
Far into the added time, Cebolla Rodríguez won a free kick on the edge of the area. There was one touch left in this game and it would be that of Atlético’s top scorer and the world’s most in form striker.
Radamel Falcao stepped up and beautifully curled the ball into the top corner for the late victory.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Mario, Gabi; Raúl García (“62 Rodríguez), Koke (“80 Emre), Adrián (“86 Diego Costa); and Falcao.
Goals: 0-1 Falcao (“90)