First division, day 3

The end of day three saw last season's four Champions League clubs in the top four spots. Wins for Valencia and Barcelona on Sunday took them both level with Real Madrid and two points behind leaders Deportivo La Coruña who had played the day before. Valencia beat Málaga 1-0 thanks to a goal late in the first half from Marchena, their second single goal victory in a row. Otherwise though it was a dull match in which the defences dominated, and the only point of interest was the return of on-loan forwards Salva, making his debut for the visitors, and Diego Alonso, who came on as a late substitute and nearly equalised. Neither could find the net though, and Málaga are next to bottom without having scored a single goal in three games.

There was a full house for the first time ever at Albacete's Carlos Belmonte stadium to see the visit of Barcelona, but the fans left disappointed after their side lost 1-2, their third defeat in a row. Cocu opened the scoring as early as the second minute, but even though Ronaldinho hit the bar with a free kick, there were no more goals until well into the second half when the ball bounced off Luis Enrique's foot in a tackle with Pablo and spun off somewhat fortunately over the surprised Roa and in to the net. The home side were left with ten men when Peña was sent off for insulting a linesman, but even so Pablo set up a thrilling last couple of minutes with a late goal for the home side.

Osasuna moved back up to fifth in the table with a 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid. Javier Aguirre's team were much the better side, and soon after Valdo struck the post with a long shot, a speculative Pablo García free kick bounced past the whole defence and into the net past a static Burgos. New signing Bakayoko went close a couple of times, and Atlético's only real chance was a header by Fernando Torres after the break which hit the side netting.

Athletic Bilbao and Zaragoza moved out of the bottom three with big wins and their first goals of the season. Athletic manager Ernesto Valverde brought in Urzaiz for his first start of the season against Mallorca, and he proved his worth with two headed goals shortly before half time. Etxeberría got in on the act after the restart heading home a third, and the Spanish international added a fourth from the penalty spot past makeshift keeper Samuel Eto'o after Leo Franco was sent off for bringing down Arriaga.

Zaragoza raced into a three goal lead within the first half hour against Real Murcia, who had been unbeaten in their first two games. Savio started things off scoring from a long free kick as early as the first minute, and David Villa made it two from the penalty spot soon afterwards after Cuadrado brought down Galletti in the area. Galletti added the third himself on the half hour mark, and after that Zaragoza sat back to defend their lead.

A hotly contested injury time penalty gave Villarreal a 1-2 win at Espanyol. Maxi had put the Catalans in front in the eleventh minute with a shot from outside the area, but Víctor equalised ten minutes later for the visitors. It looked like the home side were heading for their third draw in a row, especially as their opponents were left with ten men after Quique Alvarez was sent off, but the referee ruled that Wome had brought down Belletti in the area in injury time and Riquelme stepped up to score his first goal for his new club from the spot. (14.09.03)

Real Madrid ended the first division's goal drought in one fell swoop, beating Valladolid by 7-2 in a game of spectacular football. It took an own goal from ex Real Madrid defender Julio César to start things off in the twentieth minute, but after that there was no looking back. Raúl followed up his two goals for Spain midweek with an acrobatic back-heel from Figo's cross, and got another two minutes later with a deft lob. The best of the night came though after the break when Zidane connected with Beckham's cross-field pass to volley a first time shot past Bizzarri, starting off a spate of four goals in six minutes. Losada got one back from the penalty spot after Beckham got his arm in the way of a free kick, Figo allowed himself to be tripped by Julio César and scored from the resulting penalty and Chema got ahead of Salgado to head home Oscar's cross. Ronaldo got in on the act with Madrid's sixth after Beckham put him away, and Raúl completed his hat-trick after Bizzarri couldn't hold on to Salgado's shot.

The performance wasn't enough to take them to the top of the table though, Deportivo holding on to first place after beating Sevilla 1-2. The Galicians recorded their third victory in a row thanks to a late goal from Diego Tristán, who had started the game on the bench. His replacement Pandiani got his third goal in as many games after Luque set him up to put Irureta's side ahead before half time, but Darío Silva caught Molina off guard just after the restart to level the scores. Depor's Héctor was sent off for bringing down Reyes as he advanced on goal two minutes from the end.

Real Sociedad recorded their first win of the season after beating Racing Santander 0-1. With one eye on the upcoming Champions League game, manager Reynald Denoueix rested several key players, including Xabi Alonso, De Pedro and Lee Chun Soo, all of whom were nursing knocks, and Nihat, still not recovered from a pre-season injury. But even so they were able to win the game thanks to a first half header from De Paula from a Kovacevic cross.

Celta manager Miguel Angel Lotina also held back players thinking of next Tuesday's Champions League trip to Brugge, but in his case the ploy didn't work as his side were beaten 0-2 by Víctor Fernández's Betis. Both goals came from dead-ball kicks, Assunçao beating an otherwise excellent Cavallero with a long free kick and Fernando finishing things off from the penalty spot after Ismael was fouled late on. (13.09.03)

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