Despite slumping to their second successive defeat in La Liga, Vanderlei Luxemburgo remains sanguine about Real Madrid’s prospects for the coming season.
“We can recover,” commented ‘the Commander’, after watching his star studded side lose 1 – 0 away to Espanyol. “Worse things have happened. What we have to do now is remain calm and work even harder, because we know we have sufficient quality in the team to be able to win matches.”
Despite dominating the opening exchanges, the visitors failed to convert their chances, the best of which fell to Ronaldo, who hit the post after David Beckham’s free-kick.
Their profligacy was punished 23 minutes after the break when Ivan De La Pena’s in swinging free kick was headed home by Daniel Jarque. To compound Real’s woes, both Sergio Ramos and Julio Baptista were sent off, depleting an already thin squad going into the next round of games.
Real will derive some comfort from the fact that current champions Barcelona failed to profit from the loss: the Catalans went down 2-1 to Real’s Madrid rivals Atletico at the Vincente Colderon stadium.
Barca started the brighter of the two teams, taking the lead after six minutes when Samuel Eto’o raced on to Ludovic Guily’s cross field pass to score his third goal of the season.
Atletico leveled proceedings ten minutes later, however, after Fernando Torres headed home Petrov’s looping cross.
The hosts took the lead one minute after the restart through Mateja Kezman, who’s close-range shot successfully evaded Victor Valdes in the Barca goal and, despite having Pablo Ibanez sent off some twenty minutes later, the Serbian striker’s goal was enough to secure all three points for Los Colchoneros.
Perhaps Luxemburgo will also be encouraged by the fact that, although they presently lie 15th in the table, Real are only four points behind leaders Getafe, who emerged 4-3 victors away to Alavez.
A goal from defender David Belenguer and two from striker Ivan Rikki gave Bernd Schuster’s the advantage after Nene’s early brace – including the first of his two penalties – had sent the home team into a 2-1 lead after 12 minutes.
Mariano Pernia’s 50th minute strike was enough to wrap up the points for Getafe, who held out despite the impressive Nene completing his hat-trick five minutes after the hour mark, when he converted his second penalty of the match.
Behind them lie Deportivo, who remain second by virtue of their slightly inferior goal difference.
The Galicians played out an eventful 2-2 draw with Valencia, a match which culminated in both sides being reduced to ten men: Valencia lost Ruben Baraja, after he committed a foul late in the first half; Depor, Pedro Munitis, after the striker picked up a second yellow card when he was adjudged to have handled the ball 25 minutes after the interval.
Diego Tristan put the visitors ahead after twenty-three minutes, but parity was restored five minutes into the second half when David Villa scored from the penalty spot.
Miguel’s strike 10 minutes from time looked as though it may have been enough for Los Chez, but Segio ensured that both sides would walk away with their unbeaten records intact – two of only four clubs to have done so over the weekend.
The other unbeaten side (along with Gefate) being Real Zaragoza, who scraped a third consecutive draw of the campaign against an unusually languid Real Betis.
Chances were few and far between, but both Ricardo Olivera and Xisco spurned decent opportunities in the second half for the home side, whilst Savio wasted a close range effort to grant the away side their first victory of the season.
The Andalucians – who made eight changes from the side that lost 2 – 1 to Liverpool in mid week – attributed their below par performance to fatigue.
“It is not easy,” said goalkeeper Pedro Contreras after the match. “Playing a game on Wednesday then on Sunday, as it give you very little time to re group and recover. Many of us are still feeling rather tired.”
Betis are not the only club who appear somewhat jaded by their European exploits. Villarreal, after earning a hard fought draw in their inaugral Champions League tie against Manchester United on Wednesday, were held to a 1 – 1 draw away to newly-promoted Cadiz. The draw leaves the Yellow Submarines still searching for their first win of the current campaign.
After a rare incursion into the their opponents’ penalty box, Jose Maria fired Villarreal ahead after 37 minutes, but Oli headed an equalizer just before the half time whistle.
Athletico Bilba, are now 7th in the table, after triumphing 2 – 1 at home to Malaga.
Previously bereft of any major incident, the game sprang into life in the last six minutes, with the visitors taking the lead when Patrico Edgar made the most of a defensive mix-up, to fire home from the right hand side of the penalty box.
However, two goals in the last two minutes- from Lacruz and Toneeto respectively – turned the game in favour of Bilbao.
After two wins from their opening two games, the second of which being a 3-2 victory against a faltering Real Madrid last weekend, Celta Vigo came crashing back down to earth with a 1-0 home defeat to Racing Santander, a result which lifts the latter off the foot of the table.
A moment of individual brilliance by Francisco Casquero ensured the victory. After some impressive work on the left flank by Oscar Serrano, the midfielder picked up the ball on the edge of the Celta box, scurrying his way past a melee of defenders to slot the ball past goalkeeper Jose Pinto. Minutes later, scorer nearly turned provider, but Felipe Melo couldn’t quite reach Casqero’s through ball.
The home side also had their chances, the best of which fell to Gastavo Lopez in the second half, but the striker’s right footed drive went just wide of the post.
Osasuna beat Sevilla 1-0, in an ill-tempered match that yielded eight yellow cards and two reds, to climb up to fourth place.
David Lopez scored the game’s only goal. After a neat one-two with team mate Pierre Webo, the midfielder drilled home a ferocious shot past Khomeni’s near post just after the hour mark.
The Navarrans were reduced to ten men shortly afterwards when defender Rafael Clavero was adjudged to have impeded Jesus Navas when the latter was clean through on goal.
In injury time, it became ten apiece, as Sevilla’s Kepa incurred a second yellow card.
Finally, a second half hat trick from Venezuelan born striker Juan Arango helped Hector Cuper’s Mallorca side to their first win of the season, as they trounced Real Sociedad 5- in a thrilling game at the Son Moix.
Yordi’s header in the 5th minute gave the islanders the lead, but Sociedad went into the half time interval as leaders, thanks to goals from ex Mallorca man Alvaro Novo and Xabi Prieto.
Arango, however, would turn the game on its head in thirty dazzling second half minutes with three well-taken goals. The first he headed home from a corner, the second he converted from Okubu’s cross but the best he saved until the proverbial last when, with just five minutes remaining, he cannoned an unstoppable volley.