La Liga was back this weekend with 10 entertaining games across Spain. There were shocks, great goals and lots of red cards as well as plenty of VAR controversy. Uttiyo Sarkar, Kieran Quaile, Ben MacDonald, Gerry Johnston and myself round up all the main events where Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid were all in action, but we start our round-up with an eight goal thriller at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Villarreal 4-4 Granada
Both teams wanted to start off their campaigns strongly and that showed. After two penalties in the first half, six remaining strikes were netted in the second half to sum up La Liga’s best match of match day one.
Villarreal took the lead in the 35th minute through Santi Cazorla’s penalty after Moi Gomez was brought down inside the box. VAR awarded Granada their own penalty in the 45th minute, which Fede Vico duly disposed of.
A storm echoed in the second half, as the hosts retook the lead through Gomez in the 53rd minute after he was beautifully set up by Xavi Quintilla. Darwin Machis made it 2-2 nine minutes later by latching onto Victor Diaz’s fantastic cross, but Gerard Moreno expertly finished in the 65th minute to retake the lead. Samuel Chukwueze’s sublime goal made it 4-2 in the 73rd minute, but Granada had other plans.
With Roberto Soldado’s debut goal in the 75th minute and Antonio Puertas’ 81st-minute header, they completed the comeback. They came close to winning, but this end-to-end encounter deserved points for both sides.
Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid
Real Madrid began the season with an impressive 3-1 win away at Celta Vigo.
They took the lead after just 12 minutes when Gareth Bale raced down the left wing before drilling the ball across goal to Karim Benzema who knocked the ball into the net.
Iago Aspas thought he had levelled for the hosts but his effort was ruled out for offside against Brais Mendez before Real had Luka Modric sent off for catching Denis Suarez with his studs.
Real doubled their lead though when Toni Kroos fired in off the bar from distance with Benzema then setting up Lucas Vazquez to fire home number three.
In stoppage time, the hosts got a consolation when Iker Losada struck a low shot across Thibaut Courtois into the bottom corner.
Valencia 1-1 Real Sociedad
Late drama saw Real Sociedad snatch a draw with Valencia on Saturday evening at Mestalla.
The home side took the lead on 59 minutes when striker Kevin Gameiro poked home from close range. In the 95th minute, Gameiro had the opportunity to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Denis Cheryshev was fouled but his spot-kick was ballooned over the bar; a miss that would come back to haunt the Frenchman.
The Basques were then awarded a 101st minute penalty after Valencia’s Francis Coquelin handled the ball inside the box and received a red card for his efforts.
La Real got the deserved equaliser with the last kick of the game with midfielder Mikel Oyarzabal slotting home from the penalty spot, sending Jasper Cillessen the wrong way.
Atlético Madrid 1-0 Getafe
Last season’s runners up Atlético Madrid kicked of their campaign with a 1-0 win over Getafe.
Diego Simeone’s new-look side grabbed the only goal of the game in the 23rd minute, when a pinpoint cross from Kieran Trippier found the head of Alvaro Morata who diverted the ball into the bottom corner.
Both sides ended the match with 10 men. Jorge Molina had a caution upgraded to a red card via VAR in the 38th minute for a stamp on Thomas Partey and four minutes later Renan Lodi was given his marching orders after picking up two quick bookings.
Morata had the opportunity to double the lead in the early stages of the second half when Joao Felix won a penalty after a mazy run from his own half, however his strike partner saw his spot-kick saved by David Soria.
Athletic Club 1-0 Barcelona
Defending champions, Barcelona travelled to San Mames for the La Liga opener on Friday night without their talisman, Lionel Messi but Ernesto Valverde was able to hand debuts to summer signings, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann.
The hosts were the better team in the opening half but it was Barca who went closer to breaking the deadlock with Luis Suarez, who went off injured, and Rafinha, his replacement, both hitting the woodwork.
Barca began to take control in the second half with Athletic's high press dropping off but they never really looked like scoring and it appeared that they would have to settle for a hard earned point.
However, Athletic striker, Aritz Aduriz had other ideas and just seconds after coming on, the 38-year-old managed to contort his body to meet Ander Capa's looping cross with a bicycle kick that won the game for the Basque side.
Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid
An early red card for Betis keeper Joel Robles helped Real Valladolid to an opening day victory at the Benito Villamarin.
Robles was sent off for bringing down Sandro Ramirez after just eight minutes but it took the visitors until the second half to take the lead, Sergi Guardiola cutting inside before firing a low shot into the corner of the net.
Betis equalised on 68 minutes when William Carvalho cleverly dummied Emerson’s pass, leaving Loren Moron to control and slot the ball into the net.
Valladolid won the game at the death however, Oscar Plano taking in Waldo’s pass before sending a left foot shot beyond sub keeper Daniel Martin.
Mallorca 2-1 Eibar
Newly promoted Mallorca returned to La Liga with a 2-1 win at home to Eibar.
Dani Rodriguez gave them a fourth minute lead, latching onto Aleix Febas’ pass before racing in on goal and coolly slotting past Marko Dmitrovic.
Eibar went close when Fabian Orellana’s volley was pushed behind but from the corner, they made it 1-1, Paulo Oliveira finding the net after Kike Garcia’s header had been tipped onto the post.
Oliveira went from hero to zero however, when he connected with Joan Sastre’s cross from the right, managing to loop the ball over Dmitrovic into his own net.
Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla
Sevilla scored a goal late in each half to dispatch of Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium.
Diego Lopez made a phenomenal save to deny Luuk De Jong a debut goal before his looped effort from the rebound came off the bar, but it fell to Sergio Reguilon with the Real Madrid loanee forcing the ball over the line.
Espanyol were awarded a penalty when Juan Carlos and Facundo Ferreyra came together while going for the ball, but after a consultation with VAR, the referee decided the forward had fouled the defender and a free-kick was given instead.
It was almost two when Nolito fired just over the bar but he did double the lead on 86 minutes, getting on the end of a throw in before jinking his way past the defence before slotting beyond Lopez.
Leganes 0-1 Osasuna
Osasuna also made a winning return to La Liga, beating Leganes 1-0.
The hosts had three goals disallowed for however. Martin Braithwaite was first to be denied, firing home a rebound after Ruben Martinez had saved Youssef En-Nesyri’s header, but Roberto Rosales had handled in the build-up.
En-Nesyri was denied twice himself, the offside flag working against him both times.
Chimy Avila then gave Osasuna the lead on 75 minutes with a fantastic shot from the edge of the area.
In stoppage time, Los Pepineros were reduced to ten men when Oscar was sent off for a high challenge on Luis Perea.
Alaves 1-0 Levante
Joselu scored the only goal of the game as Alaves defeated Levante at the Mendizorrotza.
Both sides had chances to score in the first half but couldn’t find a way past either goalkeeper. The goal came on 54 minutes when Joselu met a corner at the front post with his header making it over the line despite Aitor Fernandez’s best efforts to prevent it.
Ruben Vezo was denied a leveller when his header was fantastically blocked by Fernando Pacheco to ensure the hosts got their campaign off to the perfect start.