The nearest any club came to matching Barcelona’s wonderful start to the campaign was Real Betis in a dramatic 5-3 win away to Athletic Bilbao. The Andalusians looked well in command when they took a 3-0 lead at San Mamés, but the Basques fought back after the break to pull back to 3-3. But all the home side’s hard work was in vain, with Pozuelo and Jorge Molina grabbing late goals to secure the three points for Betis.
Madrid stumble at first hurdle
Other than Barça, those were the only two sides to manage more than two goals in their first outing of the season. The side expected to once again be Barcelona’s main rivals in the title chase, Real Madrid, and who they face in the Spanish Supercup next Thursday night, got off to a slow start by dropping two points at home to Valencia. Higuain put Madrid ahead after just nine minutes, but Jonas pulled level just before the break and some extraordinary goalkeeping from Valencia’s Diego Alves ensured things stayed that way for the rest of the game. The other talking point was nasty clash of heads between Madrid’s Casillas and Pepe. The Portuguese star spent the night in intensive care and is unlikely to feature against FCB on Thursday night.
There were mixed fortunes for the three clubs that have returned to the top flight this year. Valladolid got off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win away to Zaragoza, the goal scored by Oscar just before half time, and Deportivo also started with a win, 2-0 at home to Barcelona’s rivals next weekend, Osasuna. But there was disappointment for the other Galician outfit, Celta, who went down 1-0 at home to Malaga, the only goal of the game scored by 16 year old Cameroonian Fabrice, who goes into the record books as the youngest player ever to score in La Liga. That win will also come as an important confidence booster for the Andalusians ahead of their crunch Champions League qualifier against Panathinaikos this week.
Rayo, Sevilla and Mallorca are the other three teams that took all three points from their opening day fixtures. A last minute free kick from Trashorras did the trick for the side from Vallecas at home to Granada, Jesus Navas was outstanding in Sevilla’s 2-1 win against Getafe, and a brace from Israeli international Tomer Hemed provided Mallorca with a 2-1 win over Espanyol.
In the weekend’s other match, Atlético Madrid and Levante played out a sleepy 1-1 draw.