Madrid clob­ber Betis 5-0, Barcelona pip Malaga 1-0 in Span­ish League

The China Post - - SPORTS - JOSEPH WIL­SON BY

Gareth Bale and James Ro­driguez scored two goals each to fuel Real Madrid’ 5-0 rout of Real Betis in its home opener Satur­day, while Barcelona edged Malaga 1-0 in the Span­ish League.

Ro­driguez picked out Bale to set the tone from the sec­ond minute and in­creased the lead with a vi­cious free kick from a tight an­gle in the 39th.

Af­ter Karim Ben­zema made it 3-0 early in the sec­ond half, Ro­driguez pro­duced another bril­liant strike with a bi­cy­cle kick to whip in his sec­ond goal in the 50th.

Bale was not to be out­done and struck a blis­ter­ing long ball while on the run that hit the up­right be­fore land­ing in the net with two min­utes left.

While Madrid eased to the con­vinc­ing win, Barcelona needed Thomas Ver­mae­len to score his first goal for the de­fend­ing cham­pion to se­cure a sec­ond straight win at Camp Nou.

Barcelona leads Madrid by two points af­ter two rounds, but it was Celta Vigo that took the overnight lead on goal dif­fer­ence af­ter crush­ing 10-man Rayo Val­le­cano 3-0.

Madrid’s vic­tory was a re­lief for new coach Rafa Ben­itez, whose league de­but last week­end ended in a frus­trat­ing score­less draw at pro­moted Sport­ing Gi­jon.

Betis, which also re­turned to the topflight this sea­son, was no match for Madrid at its San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium and with Ro­driguez back in the start­ing lineup af­ter Ben­itez had left him out of his first-choice 11 in Gi­jon.

“For me, I could care less about the de­bate re­gard­ing which player plays,” said Ben­itez. “I just want 11 play­ers play­ing well. I want to en­joy the 5-0.”

Bale was the first ben­e­fi­ciary of Ro­driguez’s re­turn when he spot­ted the Wales winger un­marked and placed a lobbed pass for him to head in be­yond for­mer Madrid goal­keeper An­to­nio Adan.

The out­classed Betis barely weath­ered Madrid’s re­lent­less push for a sec­ond goal un­til Ro­driguez drove a strike in off the far post from a free kick placed on the line on the right side of the area.

Bale then crossed for Ben­zema, who was in­jured in round one, to head the ball home in two min­utes af­ter half­time.

It went back to Ro­driguez to again ig­nite the crowd with his ac­ro­batic shot, lift­ing up Toni Kroos’ pass be­fore slam­ming in back into the net with his back to the goal.

Goalie Key­lor Navas had his quiet night in­ter­rupted when Raphael Varane fouled Jorge Molina in the box, but he re­sponded by smoth­er­ing Ruben Cas­tro’s spot kick in the 61st be­fore Bale capped the lop­sided win from long range.

While Messi was Barcelona’s most in­ci­sive player, Madrid star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo was oddly sub­dued. Nei­ther ri­val has scored through two rounds.

Malaga goalie Car­los Ka­meni had de­nied Messi on sev­eral oc­ca­sions be­fore Ver­mae­len broke through in the 73rd.

Ver­mae­len started in place of the sus­pended Ger­ard Pique, and his goal marks quite a turn­around for a player who only ap­peared in the fi­nal league match of last sea­son be­cause of nag­ging in­juries that had pre­vi­ously lim­ited him be­fore his ar­rival from Ar­se­nal.

“Ev­ery­one knows what I went through,” said Ver­mae­len. “The pre­sea­son was very im­por­tant and the coach (Luis En­rique) gave me the op­por­tu­nity to show what I am ca­pa­ble of. I am very grate­ful.”

Ney­mar, who played his first game of the sea­son af­ter re­cov­er­ing from the mumps, fo­cused on set­ting up Messi and al­most as­sisted him twice near the start of the sec­ond half.

But Ka­meni was up the task when he stopped Messi with his sev­enth, eighth, ninth and 10th saves of the night as Barcelona pressed for a break­through. It fi­nally came when Ka­meni par­ried Luis Suarez’s cross and Ver­mae­len used his left boot to sweep it home.

David Moyes’ Real So­ciedad is still search­ing for its first vic­tory — and its first goal — af­ter the Basque side drew 0-0 with Sport­ing.

Celta was led to its big win by Manuel “Nolito” Agudo’s two goals.

Rayo goal­keeper An­to­nio “Tono” Ro­driguez was shown a di­rect red card for foul­ing Daniel Wass in the 10th minute.

Nolito con­verted the penalty be­fore hit­ting a sec­ond goal in the 50th. An­dreu Fon­tas rounded off the win in the 88th.

AFP

Barcelona’s Brazil­ian for­ward Ney­mar da Silva San­tos Ju­nior, left, falls as he vies with Malaga’s de­fender Ar­gen­tinian Mar­cos Al­berto An­geleri dur­ing the Span­ish league soc­cer match FC Barcelona vs. Malaga CF at the Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona on Satur­day, Aug. 29.

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