La Liga looks a lot more interesting after Real Madrid and Barcelona lost their first games of the season. Both teams were without their Brazilian players who arrived back late after Brazil’s 5-0 thrashing of Ecuador on Wednesday night (early Thursday morning in Spain), and the Brazilian and Spanish press have been full of the story of the players attending a party in a famous nightclub after the match.
The big matches were played on Saturday evening. Barcelona, who replaced Ronaldinho with the 17-year-old Bojan Krkic, were totally outplayed by Villarreal who move above Barça into second place. A goal after just two minutes from Santi Cazorla and two first half penalties from Marcos Senna saw off an uninspired Barça team whose only joy came from a goal from Bojan after 24 minutes. At 17 years and 53 days, Bojan became the youngest player ever to score a league goal for Barça. Only two players in the history of La Liga have scored at a younger age: Xisco Nadal (16yrs 11 months and 18 days) in 2003 for Villarreal, and Juan Mena (17 yrs 1 month and 7 days) in 1941 for Valencia.
Real Madrid had the chance to go five points clear of Barça but could not overcome an excellent Espanyol team who have now won four games on the trot. Albert Riera put Los Perequitos in front after just two minutes, headind a corner past Iker Casillas. Madrid never got into the game and after 52 minutes Espanyol got their second. Valdo made a good run and found Raul Tamudo in acres of space on the edge of the penalty area, Tamudo had time to turn before producing an exquisite chip over the advancing Casillas. Madrid pulled one back in the 90th minute through an acrobatic volley from Sergio Ramos and there were a nervous couple of minutes as Madrid threw everyone forward, including Casillas on a couple of set pieces, but it was not enough to find an equalizer.
In Saturday’s other games, Valencia bounced back after two defeats and won 2-4 against Deportivo. Joaquin opened the scoring and Baraja made it 0-2 after 15 minutes, Xisco pulled one back for Depor but then two goals from Fernando Morientes put the result beyond doubt. Bodilla scored a late second for Depor. Sevilla also won away, winning 0-2 at Levante who remain rooted to the bottom on one point. Sevilla did no more than was needed scoring two early goals through Fabiano.
The pick of Sunday’s games was Atletico Madrid’s 4-0 win over Zaragoza. Atleti stay in sixth place after goals from Luis Garcia and Diego Forlan in the first half and two second half goals from Maxi Rodriguez. Mallorca are seventh after a 0-2 win at Recreativo who have now not scored in three games. Dani Güiza scored his fourth of the season after two minutes and substitute Tuni scored the visitors’ second with twelve minutes remaining.
Almeria bagged their first home win of the season beating Osasuna 2-0. Osasuna goalie Elia who was making his league debut gave away a stupid penalty after 51 minutes and got sent off. Felipe Melo converted the penalty, and Negredo with a superb chip, put the game beyond doubt with Almeria’s second on 69 minutes.
Valladolid have moved down to second from bottom after losing at home 1-2 to Athletic Bilbao. Ex-Valladolid player Aritz Aduriz scored both Athletic’s goals in the first half before a Victor penalty after 70 minutes gave Valladolid a consolation. Also struggling are Betis who could do no better than a 1-1 draw at home to Racing Santander. Xisco gave Betis the lead but with 13 minutes left Juanito was sent off after conceding a penalty. Jorge Lopez missed from 12 yards but he made up for his mistake by scoring Racing’s equalizer four minutes from the end.
Finally, Tottenham’s Uefa Cup rival Getafe got their first win of the season to ease Michael Laudrup’s woes. Goals from Kepa and Casquero gave them a 2-0 victory over Murcia. Kepa was sent off 23 minutes from the end after kicking out at Murcia defender Mejia, but Murcia were unable to take advantage of their numerical advantage.
Top Five: Real Madrid 19pts, Villarreal 18, Valencia 18, Barcelona 17, Espanyol 16.