BY JAKE SANDERS
Ben Thompson and Connor Mahoney scored second-half wonder goals as Millwall rounded off their pre-season campaign with a 3-3 draw against Real Sociedad at The Den.
The Lions, who were awarded two penalties inside the opening 20 minutes, took the lead through Jed Wallace, who showed Shaun Williams how it’s done from 12-yards after the Republic of Ireland midfielder saw his sixth minute effort saved from the spot. But the La Liga outfit hit back with two goals in nine minutes from Alexander Isak and a fine effort from David Zururuza before Thompson’s stunner just after the break.
Isak helped himself to his second of the afternoon on 53 minutes, but Millwall weren’t to be denied as Connor Mahoney made it 3-3 on 83 minutes, with a third fantastic goal of the game.
It means that the Lions failed to win their annual curtain raiser at home for a third campaign running after victories over Granada and German side VfL in Jimmy Abdou’s testimonial in the previous two seasons, but can take heart from their performance against a talented Sociedad side who finished 9th in La Liga last term.
Millwall made a lightning start and were handed the perfect opportunity to take the lead just six minutes into the game as Matt Smith won a penalty. Jake Cooper found the striker with a long pass and he controlled well before he was pulled down by Mobido Sagnan, fortunately for the Sociedad defender he escaped with just a yellow card. But rather unfortunately for the Lions, William saw his weak spot-kick saved by Alejandro Remiro down to his right.
Remarkably, 16 minutes later, Neil Harris’ side were given another penalty. This time Cooper was the man brought down from Mahoney’s corner and Wallace made no mistake this time, smashing down the middle from 12-yards to make it 1-0 despite Remiro getting a hand to it.
But Millwall’s lead lasted a matter of seconds as Nais Djouahra picked out Isak with a fine through pass on 22 minutes and the former Borussia Dortmund striker striker did the rest from close-range, hammering past a helpless Frank Fielding.
The end-to-end theme of the game showed no signs of stopping as just three minutes later the Lions nearly retook the lead.
Mahoney was once again the man on the set-piece. His curling effort evaded everyone and struck the bar before Alex Pearce’s follow-up effort was blocked off the line by Joseba Zaldua before Sociedad eventually cleared the danger.
However, it was the Spanish side that scored the next goal – and it came in spectacular fashion. David Zururuza found space in the middle and took aim before wonderfully firing home into the corner from 25-yards. It was of such quality that a small section of Millwall supporters applauded it.
Wallace wasted a good chance to make it 2-2 early in the second period, but on 49 minutes Millwall did get themselves level. Thompson won the ball back and composed himself before rifling a simply stunning dipping strike into the top right-hand corner from just outside area, with Remiro a mere spectator.
However, the Lions were caught cold less than five minutes later as Isak bagged his second, tapping home Adnan Januzaj’s low cross from the right after some good work from the former Manchester United winger.
Isak had a excellent chance to complete his hat-trick just before the hour-mark, but failed to hit the target from a tight angle after latching onto Martin Odegaard’s through pass.
Moments after Sociedad made six substitutions, Millwall almost found their second leveller, but Cooper couldn’t keep his header down from yet another delicious Mahoney delivery.
Harris made six substitutions just before the 70-minute mark, introducing Shaun Hutchinson, Shane Ferguson, Ryan Leonard, Jiri Skalak, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Tom Bradshaw, but it was Sociedad who went closest to scoring the sixth goal of the afternoon. Andoni Gorosabel found himself in space just inside the box and fired towards goal, but his well-struck effort was pushed away to safety by Fielding, with what was his first meaningful save of the game.
And just when the game looked like it was petering out, Mahoney took matters into his own hands. The summer signing from Bournemouth received Mahlon Romeo’s cushioned pass before beating Cristian Portugues and then arrowing a superb effort into the top left-hand corner, much to the delight of the majority of the 3,554 inside The Den.
Aritz Elustondo should have ensured that Sociedad headed back to Spain with at least one victory from their tour of England, but headed over from close-range with what was the final opportunity of an entertaining pre-season contest.
PICTURES BY BRIAN TONKS
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