First division, day 1
A low scoring start to the season, with only 17 goals in the ten matches. There was only one in the game between Zaragoza and Deportivo La Coruña, but Pandiani's second half strike was enough to give the visitors a 0-1 win. The Uruguayan striker had only been on the pitch for two minutes when he rose to head Víctor's cross wide of Lainez midway through the second half. Up to then neither side had been able to break the deadlock, Zaragoza's David Villa coming closest in the first half but being foiled by an atrocious pitch. A few minutes after the goal Ponzio hit the post, and Milito headed just over the bar later on.
Meanwhile Celta were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw at home by newly promoted Real Murcia. Milosevic put the Gallicians ahead on the half hour mark, heading Silvinho's free kick down past Sánchez Broto. But Richi hit the foot of the post as Joaquín Peiró's side came back after the break, and on-loan Real Madrid youngster Luis García levelled the scores from the penalty spot after Contreras brought down Maciel in the area.
Racing Santander seem to have recovered from the change of management, and they won their opening game 2-1 against Mallorca. Benayoun gave them the lead early on after Javi Guerrero laid the ball back to him, and Guerrero himself added a second after the break after combining with Morán. With many new faces in the side, the visitors were clearly not yet up to full speed, although Eto'o won a last minute penalty and converted it himself to make the scoreline look decent.
Sevilla's new signing Baptista showed why the papers have been raving about him recently. The young Brazilian midfielder put in an excellent performance, having a goal disallowed for a positional offside of team mate Darío Silva in the first half, and then a few minutes later scoring what was to prove the only goal in their 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid. Visiting keeper Burgos had to be at his best to stop efforts from Gallego and Baptista either side of half time, and Luis Gil should have scored for the Andalucians late on. (31.08.03)
David Beckham's new career in Spain couldn't have got off to a better start. The latest addition to Real Madrid's galaxy of stars scored within two minutes of the start of the match against Betis, and had a hand in the second goal which won the match for his new club in the second half. Becks turned goalscorer early on after Ronaldo took a return pass from Raúl and swung the ball into his path in front of goal, but by half time the visitors were level after Juanito got ahead of Cambiasso to head Joaquín's corner past Casillas. A long ball from the England captain though found Zidane down the left wing on the hour mark, and the French midfielder crossed in for Ronaldo to volley home the winner.
The new Barcelona also got off to a winning start with a 0-1 victory at Athletic Bilbao, although they can think themselves lucky that they came away with the three points. Cocu headed the only goal of the match in the eleventh minute from Van Bronckhorst's free kick, but after that they were forced back by a Basque side who couldn't finish off the chances they created. New manager Ernesto Valverde had opted to play Ezquerro and Etxeberría up front, but both were off target when free in front of goal. Urziaz came on in the second half, but he too missed an easy header near the end which could have saved his side a point.
The match between Valencia and Valladolid was overshadowed by the possible move of Ayala to Real Madrid, and the Argentine international withdrew from the squad for this match even though club president Jaime Ortí said he was not for sale. The fans' discontent at the loss of star players and the lack of big signings turned to anger as the humble visitors took the lead through Sousa midway through the first half, and then saw opposing goalkeeper Bizzarri stop a penalty from new striker Oliveira. However Aimar saved a point after the break with a brilliant individualist goal after the break.
Real Sociedad's new signing Lee Chun Soo didn't quite have the start that Beckham had, but he did have a good game and contributed to his side's equalising goal in the match at Espanyol. The Catalans had taken the lead after Wome's free kick deflected in to the net off López Rekarte in the first half. But the Korean, deputizing for the injured Nihat, ran through to chip the ball over keeper Lemmens, leaving Kovacevic the easy task of running the ball over the line.
No goals in the game between Málaga and Villarreal, but we did get the first two sendings off of the season. Referee Muñiz Fernández showed 14 yellow cards and two reds as the two sides battled it out, with Coloccini for the visitors and Valcarce for the home side both taking an early bath. Villarreal's Guayre came closest to scoring when he hit the post in the second half, but their new signing Riquelme had to watch the match from the substitutes' bench.
Newly promoted Albacete have found out early on that life is tough in the top flight. A virtual capacity crowd watched them lose their opening game 0-2 to Osasuna, who last year only just avoided relegation themselves. Valdo opened the scoring for the Pamplona based side, getting on the end of an Antonio López free kick to beat Roa just before the break, and Puñal added the second from the penalty spot in injury time after Peña fouled Iván Rosado. (30.08.03)