La Liga Roundup, Gameweek 4: Bale’s Debut Goal Not Enough as Atletico and Barca Lead The Way
Gareth Bale marked his Real Madrid debut with a goal, but his new club failed to match Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who both extended their winning start to the campaign to four games.
Following victories for the Catalans and Los Colcherones, Carlo Ancelotti’s men could only draw with Villarreal – who also went into the game with a 100 per cent record – 2-2 at El Madrigal.
Cani capped a great start for the Yellow Submarine midway through the first half when he punished a dithering Madrid defence. Los Blancos levelled when Bale – a peripheral presence for much of the game – tapped in Daniel Carvajal’s cut-back. Cristiano Ronaldo then gave the Merengues a 64th-minute lead, only for Giovani dos Santos to equalise and rescue a well-deserved point for Villarreal.
Barcelona seemed looked on course for a comfortable win against battling Sevilla at Camp Nou when Neymar crossed for Lionel Messi to add to Dani Alves’ first-half strike and make it 2-0 with a quarter of an hour left. Ivan Rakitic gave the visitors hope, though, and when the unmarked Coke volleyed in a 90th-minute corner the Andalusian side thought they had completed an unlikely comeback, before substitute Alexis Sanchez gave Barca a win they scarcely deserved.
Former Barca striker David Villa set Atletico on their way to a 4-2 home triumph against Almeria with his second goal of the campaign after 15 minutes. Diego Costa added a second from the penalty spot before Rodri pulled one back for Almeria before half-time. Tiago Mendes and Koke made it four for Atletico, with Aleix Vidal’s 90th minute goal for Almeria scant consolation.
Mounir El Hamdaoui hit a hat-trick as Malaga won 5-0 against a poor Rayo Vallecano side at La Rosaleda. Francisco Portillo and Eliseu Pereira were also on target for Los Boquerones, who registered their first win under new coach Bernd Schuster.
Another side achieving their first success of the new campaign were Real Betis, who hit three first-half goals in an impressive 3-1 win over lacklustre Valencia. Jorge Molina was on target after 10 minutes for Betis and a Salva Sevilla double put Pepe Mel’s men 3-0 up at the break. Ricardo Costa pulled one back for Los Che, but Valencia crashed to a third successive defeat.
Athletic Bilbao withstood a late fightback by Celta Vigo to maintain their fine beginning to the new campaign, edging out Luis Enrique’s men 3-2 in an exciting encounter at San Mames. Charles gave Celta an early lead which was quickly cancelled out by Mikel San Jose. Andoni Iraola and Benat Etxebarria gave the Basques a two-goal cushion before Santi Mina pulled one back for Celta eleven minutes from time to set up a tense finish.
Espanyol maintained their good start to the season with a 1-0 win at Granada, who had Odion Ighalo sent off for a second bookable offence in the second half. Manuel Lanzarote hit the winner for Espanyol 15 minutes from time.
New coach at basement club Osasuna, Javi Gracia, accused his players of being naive after they threw away an early lead to lose 2-1 at Getafe. Gracia replaced Jose Luis Mendilibar, who was dismissed following the Pamplona side’s abysmal start to the season. Roberto Torres gave Osasuna and 11th minute lead, but goals from Miku either side of the break handed Los Azulones the points.
In the weekend’s other games, Elche drew 0-0 with Real Valladolid while Levante also played out a goalless draw with Real Sociedad who, together with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico, begin their Champions League group stage campaign this week. On Tuesday, Real Sociedad entertain Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk at Anoeta and Real Madrid travel to Istanbul to face Galatasaray. Atletico host Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday while Ajax of Amsterdam visit Camp Nou to play Barcelona.
Valencia and Betis begin their Europa League group stage games on Thursday, hosting EPL side Swansea and French club Lyon respectively, while Sevilla’s opening match is away at Portuguese outfit Estoril.