La Liga: Mourinho’s Real Madrid seal first away win
La Liga’s answer to Jekyll and Hyde came up trumps again this weekend as Real Mallorca subjected Osasuna to a 2-0 defeat at the Ono Estadi.
Impressively solid at home but frequently the worst performers on the road, Mallorca were always comfortable in this tie although Jonathan de Guzman waited until second half stoppage time to secure the victory by doubling the advantage that Chori Castro had chalked up from the penalty spot earlier on. Jose Antonio Camacho’s timid team have failed to score in their first three league matches in 2010-11, which is obviously a serious cause for concern.
While that game was going on in the Balearics, Espanyol were in control back on the mainland as they made it two out of two at the Cornella El Prat with a 1-0 win over Almeria. Jose Callejon’s fine volley at the start of the second half was enough to separate the teams in a quiet match in which both goalkeepers were relatively untroubled.
The same cannot be said for Sporting de Gijon‘s meet with Athletic Bilbao at the Molinon. A 2-2 draw in Asturias extended a 19-year winless run for Sporting against their Basque neigbours. Manuel Preciado’s side took an early two-goal lead through Miguel de las Cuevas and Gaston Sangoy, thanks in part to some suspect goalkeeping from Gorka Iraizoz, but Athletic re-grouped and came back with goals from Markel Susaeta and Fernando Llorente and could have even won the tie late on.
A draw was the least that Real Sociedad deserved against Real Madrid at Anoeta after comprehensively outplaying Jose Mourinho’s men. Unfortunately for Martin Lasarte and his players, they eventually fell to a 1-2 defeat. A fine Angel Di Maria strike gave Real Madrid a lead against the run of play and, despite initially getting back into it through Raul Tamudo, Sociedad were finally undone by a deflected Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick. It was a worrying performance by Los Merengues but Lasarte will have been encouraged by his team’s display, expecially the contribution of their French teenage prodigy Antoine Griezmann.
Levante gave their most assured performance of the season so far but still came off second best at the Ciutat de Valencia. The 1-2 home defeat to Villarreal leaves Luis Garcia Plaza’s bottom of the table and they remain the only club without a point to their name in the top flight. Two first half strikes from Brazilian international Nilmar decided the tie but at least there was some consolation at the end as Manchester City loan signing Felipe Caicedo grabbed a goal for his new side.
Racing Santander finally ended their hoodoo at the Campos de Sport del Sardinero with a 2-0 win over Real Zaragoza. Henrique and Ariel Nahuelpan scored the late deciders but it was a fortuitous win as Jose Aurelio Gay’s side were disallowed a perfectly legal goal from Gabi with the game tied at 0-0.
Valencia are the only team with a 100% record after matchday three thanks to a 1-2 derby win over giant-killers Hercules. Young wingers Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez scored for the visitors before David Trezeguet notched up his first goal for Hercules from the penalty spot. Unai Emery’s team have silenced the critics having come out strongly after a difficult pre-season and their reward is top spot in the league standings at this early stage.
Barcelona ran out 1-2 victors against Atletico Madrid in the most eagerly anticipated tie of the weekend. World-beater Lionel Messi made all the headlines on Monday morning as he opened the scoring and was later the victim of a deliberate stamp by Tomas Ujfalusi, which saw the Argentinean star stretchered off the pitch and resulted in a straight red card for the Czech offender. Raul Garcia gave Atletico some hope when he headed in an equaliser to send the Vicente Calderon into raptures but the euphoria was eventually replaced by the grim acceptance of a defeat to a superior team after Gerard Pique restored Barcelona’s lead.
Sevilla forgot their troubles at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday night as they took three points away from the derby clash with Malaga courtesy of a 1-2 win at the Rosaleda. An early Jose Rondon strike increased the pressure on Antonio Alvarez, whose managerial position was probably hanging by a thread at that stage, but his team rallied and goals from Alejandro Alfaro and Martin Caceres turned the tie on its head. Alvarez survives to fight another day.