|First Division - Day 1|
Osasuna 0 - Celta 2
Cruchaga, Aitor Ocio, Mateo; Yanguas, Alex, Sena (Alfonso 46'); Angel,
Lekumberri; Sabino (Angel Luis 67'), Armentano (Iván Rosado 75').
Celta laid down the gauntlet as the dark horses to win the league this year with a comfortable victory against newly promoted Osasuna. Last year the Gallician side ran out of steam towards the end of the season, finishing in a disappointing .seventh place. One of the reasons was the lack of an experienced centre forward who could score goals, and Víctor Fernández has moved in the transfer market this summer to sign Málaga's Brazilian (now nationalized Spanish) striker Catanha. There were several other new signings as well, and Cavallero, Doriva, Vagner and Jesuli should be more than adequate replacements for Dutruel, who joined Barcelona, Makelele and Celades, who both went to Real Madrid, and Revivo, who is now with Fenerbahce. All but Cavallero started this match, Víctor preferring his number two keeper Pinto for the moment at least.
Osasuna are another Basque side who don't have any big names, but are hard working and difficult to beat. They return to the top flight after six seasons in the second division, but they have a long history in the first division including a run of 14 years before they last went down. Their starting side included no less than seven new signings, including keeper Nuno and defender Ocio on loan from Deportivo and Bilbao respectively, and five more signed from the second division clubs.
Backed by a 15,000 crowd, the Pamplona based side started off enthusiastically, but time and time again came up against a solid Celta defence. Both keepers were called upon to show their class in the first half, with Pinto saving from Lekumberri and Armentano and Nuno blocking a point blank shot from Jesuli. Vagner, making his league debut, was superb in midfield for the visitors, and on the hour mark Víctor brought on Mostovoi and Giovanella to join him. Both players made their mark, with Giovanella hitting a post shortly after coming on, and Mostovoi laying on a great pass for new boy Manolo to score the second of the night six minutes from time. Before that though Catanha had started to pay off his transfer fee with an individualist goal, latching on to a rebound wide on the left after Aitor Ocio had blasted the ball against his legs, and running thirty yards to shoot past Nuno.
The result demonstrated the gap between the top two divisions, with Osasuna lacking the extra pace and class when it mattered. Curiously all three newly promoted teams were beaten at home, and currently occupy the last three positions in the league. Celta start their campaign with a win, and now go on to their UEFA cup first round match having arrived at that stage after winning through in the Intertoto cup competition. One other fact worthy of mention: referee Muñiz Fernández made a discreet debut in the first division, and for now looks like a good addition to the ranks. Only time will tell though.