First division - day 1
Quite a few surprises on the opening weekend of the new season, not least of which the 0-0 draw between Racing Santander and Barcelona. Speculation about whether Rijkaard would play the "Fantastic Four" together ended when Henry was left on the bench. But the locals had the better of the first half, Valdés having to make a couple of key saves and Colsa hitting the post before Xavi had an effort cleared off the line. Marcelino turned to his secret weapon, Smolarek, after the break, but the Polish striker self exploded, getting himself sent off within twelve minutes for a foul on Abidal. Even so the visitors couldn't break down a makeshift defence, the closest they came a shot from Henry against the foot of the post.
Sevilla's win the day before left them top of the table, but the other names in the Champions League spots were not so familiar. Newly promoted Almería are joint second after a surprising 0-3 win at Deportivo, Negredo giving them the lead midway through the first half and setting up Soriano for a second before the break. Crusat made it three soon after the restart, and Soriano hit the post later on. Depor coach Lotina apologised to fans for the team's poor performance after the match.
Mallorca also won 3-0 against Levante, with visiting keeper Storari having to make a couple of saves before Cirillo brought down Tuni in the area, allowing Ibagaza to open the scoring from the penalty spot. Güiza got a second early in the second half after Webó headed on Moyà's long clearance, and Ibagaza rounded things off with his second of the night, making him the league's "Pichichi" after day one.
Later in the evening there was an action packed match at Valencia, where Quique Flores's side lost 0-3 to neighbours Villarreal. Tomasson got the first goal on the quarter hour mark, and the locals were left with nine men after Spanish internationals Villa and Joaquín were sent off either side of half time. Mati Fernández came on and won a penalty which Rossi converted, and the Chilean midfielder then set up Cazorla for the third.
A good start though for all three newly promoted sides, Valladolid joining Almería and Murcia in the top half of the table after a 0-1 victory at Espanyol. The Catalans had only won their opening game of the season once in six years, and missing several of their key players they were unable to find the route to goal. A defensive mistake let in Kome for him to set up Llorente for the only goal of the match early in the second half.
Recreativo Huelva were held to a 1-1 draw by local rivals Betis in their opening game. Sinama-Pongolle put the home side in front after good work by Camuñas midway through the first half, but Sorrentino had to make a couple of important saves before Nano headed the equaliser for Héctor Cúper's side just before the interval.
All square in the other local derby of the weekend as well, the match between Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna ending 0-0. The intense heat meant that play was slow, and neither side really created any clear cut chances throughout the match. (26.08.07)
The new season is under way, and we only had to wait one minute for the first goal in the opening match, the "big spenders" derby between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Visiting striker Agüero was the man who silenced the home crowd with a header following Pernía's corner, but just a quarter of an hour later Raúl got on the end of a Sergio Ramos cross to head the equaliser. And with a ten minutes to go new signing Wesley Sneijder made it 2-1 for the reigning league champions, driving home a deflected shot following a Guti free kick.
A goal as well in the second minute of the second game, Pablo Hernández's free kick giving Getafe a surprise lead at Sevilla. The visitors were down to nine men by the break though after Sousa and Cortés were sent off, and the locals took advantage with goals from Navas, Luis Fabiano, Kanouté and Kerzhakov after the restart to run out 4-1 winners. The match was overshadowed though by the collapse of Antonio Puerta on the pitch, the Sevilla player being rushed to an intensive care unit where he is reported to be seriously ill.
Murcia celebrated their return to the top flight with a 2-1 victory over Zaragoza. Mejía opened the scoring when he headed on Pablo García's free kick early on, but Oliveira equalised with a spectacular strike before half time. Baiano forced home the winner in the second half though, and Zaragoza's challenge ended when debutant Matuzalem was sent off soon afterwards. (25.08.07)