The opening round of fixtures in La Liga saw Eibar make history, a Barcelona wonderkid make his mark, and champions Atletico stutter to an opening day draw writes Jamie Currie.
Tiny Basque club Eibar are the story of the opening weekend, they almost were denied promotion due to financial reasons but managed to start the reason incredibly winning the first Basque derby of the season 1-0 as they welcomed Real Sociedad to their 5,250-capacity Ipurua stadium. The historic winning goal came in the 45th minute. Javi Lara’s free-kick from wide on the left floated all the way in, going over the head of La Real goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai’s head into the top corner. Real Sociedad didn’t have the best of games but had a few penalty appeals turned down, and their best chance came courtesy of Inigo Martinez the defenders shouldered effort from a few yards out could only go wide.
In the most eye-catching fixture of the weekend top four hopefuls Sevilla and Valencia played out a 1-1 draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. In a very even contest, Valencia looked the more dangerous of the sides early on, Pablo Piatti was put through on goal after the Sevilla defence were robbed of possession but the Argentine saw his goal-bound shot hit both posts and it stayed out. The opening goal came just before half-time. Sevilla won the ball in midfield, Carlos Bacca went on an outstanding individual run, beating two defenders before sliding the ball to Aleix Vidal, the winger saw his first effort saved by he calmly side-footed the rebound beyond Diego Alves.
The second period was of similar fashion. Iborra cut the ball back for Vitolo to fire wide .After that Rodrigo De Paul’s debut lasted under two minutes, he came on as sub for Paco Alcacer but he was sent off for elbowing Sevilla goalscorer Vidal in the face. As Sevilla looked like they were going to take all three points, Lucas Orban had other ideas. He chested home Rodrigo’s cross to secure the away side a much-deserved point.
Luis Enrique’s new-look Barcelona side got off to an easy start, with a 3-0 victory over Elche at the Camp Nou. Despite having Javier Mascherano sent off.Messi gave the Catalans the lead with a lovely low finish. Mascherano saw red a minute later; he was the last defender and brought down Garry Rodrigues. That didn’t stop Barca as wonderkid Munir scored his first ever senior goal. He executed a lobed finish over the keeper. The third goal came 15 minutes after. Messi picked the ball on the right-hand side, he beat three defenders before finishing expertly with his deadly left foot.
Real Madrid started their season with a 2-0 victory over newly promoted Elche at the Bernabeu. Karim Benzema’s bullet header in the first half and a 90th minute Cristiano Ronaldo long-range effort capped the win for Los Blancos, in an otherwise frustrating opening game.
Meanwhile, fellow Madrid sides Rayo Vallecano and Atletico played to a 0-0 draw. Rayo looked by far the more energetic of the two sides, the champions had Moya to thank for keeping the game goalless, when he saved Manucho’s goal-bound header. Atleti were poor in general, Mario Mandzukic had their best chance in the first period, but his low effort was well saved by Rayo keeper Alvarez. Los Rojiblancos are already trailing Barcelona and Real Madrid in the title race.
Elsewhere on the opening weekend, Malaga defeated Athletic Club 1-0 with Luis Alberto grabbing the only goal for nine-man Malaga. The game will be sure to make the headlines because of the last-minute disallowed goal. Athletic’s goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz seen his header ruled out for a foul, but it look like no foul had taken place.
Celta started under Berizzo’s management winning 3-1 against Getafe. Nolito, Orellana, and Larrivey scored for the Galician side, Getafe’s Brazilian midfielder Sammir scored the consolation for the Madrid-based side.
Their fellow Galicians and rivals Deportivo lost 2-1 at Getafe despite taking the lead in the game. Ivan Cavaleiro gave Depor the lead in the first half, but that couldn’t stop Granada’s comeback. Ruben Rochina equalised with 55 minutes on the clock and then Babin scored a debut goal 22 minutes later.
Villarreal downed Levante in Valencia local derby beating them 2-0. Uche gave the yellow submarines the lead then Denis Cheryshev sealed the points with his first La Liga goal.
Almeria welcomed Espanyol in the Saturday night fixture Soriano put the home side in front with 52 minutes gone. When it looked as if they were going to get all three points, Sergio Garcia popped up with an equalising goal in stoppage time.
Malaga 1-0 Athletic
Sevilla 1-1 Valencia
Granada 2-1 Deportivo
Almeria 1-1 Espanyol
Eibar 1-0 Real Sociedad
Celta Vigo 3-1 Getafe
Barcelona 3-0 Elche
Levante 0-2 Villarreal
Real Madrid 3-0 Cordoba
Rayo Vallecano 0-0 Atletico Madrid
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