Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao in a Basque Country derby to end its winless run and strengthen its hold on third place in the Spanish league on Thursday.

Cristian “Portu” Portugués scored the game’s only goal in the fifth minute after Mikel Merino played Mikel Oyarzabal clear on the flank, where he squared the ball for Portu to knock home.

The victory came after a difficult December in which Sociedad had drawn three games before losing another three in a row prior to its visit to Bilbao. The three points moved it to within four points of second-place Real Madrid and six points from leader Atlético Madrid. Sociedad has played three more matches than the frontrunner.

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“After those defeats, we wanted to turn this around and win the derby for our fans so they could celebrate New Year”s Eve in…

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