A magnificent Javi Lara free-kick gave Eibar the perfect start to life in La Liga on Sunday night, as they edged out Basque Country rivals Real Sociedad 1-0 at Ipurua.
The midfielder was making his debut having signed from Segunda Division side Ponferradina, and just before half-time he brilliantly executed a set-piece from a tight angle as Gaizka Garitano’s men marked their first appearance in the Spanish top flight with what he hopes is the first of many scalps.
Sociedad rocked by newly-promoted minnows
Sociedad narrowly missed out on a Champions League place last season, but they found themselves on the back foot from the start against their opponents who go into the season on the back of successive promotions.
They almost began spectacularly in the fifth minute as defender Abraham got forward from the back and whipped a ball across the face of goal, and Mikel Arruabarrena was just whiskers away from getting the vital touch.
Strike partner Angel Rodriguez went close soon after, heading Lara’s free-kick just high of the target. But Eibar were only denied by some inspired goalkeeping midway through the half.
Enaut Zubikarai had his palms stung by a fierce effort from Lara before he got up quickly to tip Arruabarrena’s header around the post.
Eibar fairytale makes fairytale start
For all of the hosts’ chances, they finally made one count just before the break when they were awarded a free-kick in a tight angle on the left-hand side.
Lara stepped up and swept a powerful free kick into the roof of the net off the far post, well beyond the reach of Zubikarai who found himself flapping at thin air.
For their first-half dominance, Eibar had to be stubborn in the second and really dig their heels in.
Sergio Canales got in behind the home defence eight minutes in but with the whole goal to aim at, Imanol Agirretxe could only direct his cut back straight into the grateful arms of Iruretagoiena Xabier.
Nervy finish sees hosts show steel
Former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela came off the bench for the visitors and headed his best opportunity wide of the target after a deep cross from the right-hand side.
Eibar hearts were in their mouths seven minutes from time, when Canales went down in the penalty area under a clumsy challenge from Jon Errasti. But the referee waved the appeals away, as the midfielder did appear to go down rather easily.
The hosts held on for a very famous victory on a very famous night at Ipurua, and they will take confidence into their next game which poses the small matter of a trip to defending champions Atletico Madrid.
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