A review of the weekend’s action in Spain’s Primera Division as both Real Madrid and Barcelona won convincingly.
Real Madrid got their campaign in La Liga off to the ideal start as two goals from Gareth Bale steered them to a 3-0 win away to Real Sociedad.
The Wales forward clearly enjoys playing in San Sebastian, and has now scored five times in four visits to the Estadio Anoeta since his transfer to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2013.
His first was a bullet header from a Dani Carvajal cross in the second minute and he scored a second deep in injury time at the end of the game as he took the ball around home goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli and slotted home.
In between, 20-year-old midfielder Marco Asensio scored with a cool finish, lofting the ball over Rulli after a long ball caused confusion in the Real Sociedad defence five minutes before the break.
It may not have been quite as emphatic an opening as Barcelona’s 6-2 hammering of Real Betis on Saturday but Real coach Zinedine Zidane will have been encouraged by the display from a depleted team missing, among others, injured superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Alaves in extraordinary circumstances at the Vicente Calderon.
Diego Simeone’s side had seen their principal title rivals Real and Barcelona claim maximum points and missed a series of chances before Kevin Gameiro took advantage of a debatable penalty award to put the Rojiblancos ahead in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.
However, they let two points slip from their grasp as Manu was allowed the space to unleash a right-foot rocket two minutes later, which Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who had barely touched the ball owing to Atletico’s total dominance, got nowhere near.
Earlier on Sunday, Sporting Gijon began their campaign with a 2-1 victory overAthletic Bilbao at El Molinon.
Croatia striker Duje Cop put Sporting in front in the 50th minute and Victor Rodriguez added a quickfire second three minutes later.
Athletic pulled one back through substitute Borja Viguera with four minutes remaining but Sporting held on.
Barcelona began their title defence with a convincing 6-2 defeat of Real Betis.
The Catalans are pursuing a third successive Spanish championship, and followed their recent Spanish Super Cup defeat of Sevilla with another one-sided win, owing largely to Luis Suarez’s hat-trick.
Arda Turan gave Barca the lead in only the sixth minute from close range after Messi’s cut-back, while Betis equalised through Ruben Castro’s fine 21st-minute free-kick, but – when Lionel Messi restored Barca’s lead in the 37th-minute from 25 yards – the hosts began to dominate.
Suarez scored the first of his three goals with an angled strike in the 42nd minute to make it 3-1. He added his second in the 56th with a routine tap-in after being set-up by Messi, one minute before the Argentinian’s second, from just inside the area and again after being gifted too much space.
Suarez’s third came from a 20-yard free-kick as good as Ruben Castro’s.
The Betis forward reduced the deficit with a powerful finish in the 84th minute, but it proved little more than a consolation to his team.
Sevilla twice recovered from going a goal down to secure a 6-4 home defeat of Espanyol in coach Jorge Sampaoli’s first league fixture in charge.
The Argentinian had overseen three successive defeats, the first via a 3-2 scoreline against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. The second and third contributed to a 5-0 aggregate deficit over two legs against Barcelona in the Spanish Supercopa.
Espanyol, whose goals came from Pablo Piatti, Hernan Perez, Victor Sanchez and Gerard Moreno, led both 1-0 and 3-2.
The hosts’ equaliser in first-half stoppage time, from Luciano Vietto to prevent Espanyol leading at half-time, seemed particularly influential. His earlier goal had put them 2-1 up after Pablo Sarabia made the score 1-1.
Franco Vazquez, Wissam Ben Yedder and Hiroshi Kiyotake scored three times in 20 second-half minutes to take Sevilla beyond Espanyol’s reach. Moreno scored the game’s 10th goal with 11 minutes remaining
There was also a 1-1 draw at Granada for Villarreal, whose new coach Fran Escriba oversaw his first league fixture.
The visitors took the lead in the 61st minute when Samuel Castillejo curled a left-footed free-kick inside the right-hand post and beyond goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Granada equalised just four minutes later. Ezequiel Ponce was gifted possession directly in front of goal after a corner, and he capitalised by scoring with a routine close-range finish.
Former Arsenal midfielder Fran Merida secured a point for promoted Osasuna in a 1-1 draw against Malaga at La Rosaleda on Friday night.
Playmaker Juanpi gave Juande Ramos’ Malaga the lead with a neat 56th-minute goal but substitute Merida, who moved to Pamplona from Huesca this summer, levelled the scores with five minutes to go of their LaLiga opener.
The first 45 minutes of the Spanish top-flight season were a slow-burner to say the least, with neither side creating an opening until the 38th minute.
Deportivo La Coruna went to the top of the early standings with a 2-1 home win over Eibar on the opening night of the Spanish top flight.
Lucas Perez won a late penalty when he went to ground after a push in the back from David Junca and got up to tuck it away himself in the 87th minute.
Depor had gone behind in the 55th minute when former Wigan defender Ivan Ramis rose highest at the near post to head in a corner, though home goalkeeper German Lux should have kept it out.
Pedro Mosquera equalised for the hosts (69) as he stretched to volley home Raul Albentosa’s free-kick and Perez then kept his nerve to slot home the winner from the spot.