La Liga: Valencia’s perfect start ended by Atletico Madrid
Athletic Bilbao’s exciting young team put Real Mallorca to the sword with a 3-0 win at San Mames on Tuesday night.
The first goal from David Lopez was an accident, the second – from Mikel San Jose of all people – was a penalty, and the third from Inigo Perez did not come until second half stoppage time but, all the same, Athletic’s stamp was clearly marked against a woefully inept travelling side who, for all their home bravado, are a shadow of last year’s overachieving team.
Osasuna finally kick-started their season with a 3-1 victory over Real Sociedad in a north Spain derby. Jose Antonio Camacho’s team had failed to score in their three league matches hitherto but Walter Pandiani, Javier Camunas and Carlos Aranda banged in the goals as if it were second nature to them. The manner of the win was just as satisfactory as the result itself as the Pamplonans had to respond to an early set-back when Raul Tamudo, clearly revitalised in his new surroundings, put Real Sociedad ahead with his third goal in as many games.
Real Madrid found their goal scoring touch again at the Bernabeu on matchday four but it was far from a vintage performance despite a 3-0 final scoreline against Espanyol. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were competitive throughout and never looked out of their depth. Real’s three recognised strikers all got in on the action as Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty), Gonzalo Higuain and substitute Karim Benzema were on the mark. Red cards to Pepe, Ernesto Galan and Juan Forlin disrupted the game slightly and it was only when Espanyol were at a numerical disadvantage that they really suffered against Jose Mourinho’s megastars.
Lionel Messi was clearly missed by Barcelona, who were not as coherent in attack as they usually are, but David Villa was busy at the Camp Nou in Messi’s absence and the Asturian striker eventually managed to finish one of his many chances to give the Catalan giants a 1-0 win over Sporting de Gijon.
Real Zaragoza and Hercules drew 0-0 at the Romareda in matchday four’s most emphatic sleep-inducer. Zaragoza had multiple chances to score but their wasteful finishing was costly and is largely responsible for them dropping to the bottom of the league table.
Luis Garcia Plaza finally had something to smile about on Wednesday as his Levante team beat a woeful Almeria side 1-0 away at the Juegos Mediterraneos. Former Deportivo La Coruna midfielder Sergio scored the only goal to give the Valencia-based club their first points of the season.
Valencia‘s 100% record in the league came to an end at Mestalla in a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid. Quique Sanchez Flores’ team took an early lead as Simao finished a wonderful counter-attacking move but Valencia cranked up the pressure in the second half and Aritz Aduriz was on target as that pressure eventually told.
Nilmar shot to the top of the Pichichi charts on Thursday as he inspired an improving Villarreal to a 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna with the only goal at the Madrigal. Things have gone well for Juan Carlos Garrido’s team since their opening day defeat to Real Sociedad and they now move above Barcelona into 3rd.
Malaga‘s counter-attacking strength paid dividends for them again on Thursday as they stunned Getafe with two goals in six second half minutes at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez to win 0-2. Jose Rondon and Antonio Apono were the goal-scoring beneficiaries as Malaga’s raw pace proved decisive. Both sides finished with ten men as Rafa Lopez and Jesus Gamez saw red for two bookable offences.
Jose Maria Del Nido is not an easy man to please at the best of times but the Sevilla president let his feelings be known after his club were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Racing Santander. Sevilla took the lead courtesy of an Alvaro Negredo penalty by were pegged back by a rare Pablo Pinillos goal. Del Nido criticised the players for their performance and hinted at coach Antonio Alvarez’s culpability for the Andalusian’s poor home displays. Sevilla are 5th in the table but have, quite inexplicably, failed to win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan so far.