Messi inspires 10-man Barca


Goals from Lionel Messi and teenager Munir El Haddadi ensured Luis Enrique got his era as Barcelona coach off to a winning start as they beat Elche 3-0 on Sunday night.

The Catalans had to play the entire second half with 10 man after Javier Mascherano was sent off, but they had earlier taken the lead through Messi, who also grabbed the third, with exciting 18-year-old forward Munir scoring just after half-time.

Messi needed just one touch to bring the ball under control before sweeping it into the bottom corner with his left foot top open the scoring.

However, Barca were dealt a setback just a minute after scoring, Mascherano sent off for bringing down Garry Rodrigues when he was clean through on goal.

They still doubled their lead when Rakitic played a long ball over the top towards Munir, who waited patiently for it to drop and flicked it into the far corner of the net with a single touch.

But Messi’s second goal of the night, arriving a quarter of an hour after Munir’s, was the finest move of the night.

The Argentinian attacked down the right and shrugged off four Elche defenders to bring the ball onto his favoured left boot and drive it low into the bottom corner.

Basque outfit Eibar got off to a dream start in their first ever season in the top flight, pulling off a 1-0 win at home to neighbours Real Sociedad.

Midfielder Javi Lara scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time, crashing a free-kick into the net from the tightest of angles.

While La Real produced a strong second-half display, they could not turn their late pressure into goals.

Celta Vigo also claimed victory in their opening match as they eased to a 3-1 win over Getafe at Balaidos.

Nolito scored the opening goal for Celta in the 20th minute from Joaquin Larrivey’s headed assist, with Fabian Orellana adding the second after the break before Jorge Sammir pulled one back for Getafe.

Larrivey made it three and sealed the win for the home side in the 70th minute as Celta claimed a well-deserved victory.

Ikechukwu Uche and Denis Cheryshev were on-target as Villarreal began their campaign with an impressive 2-0 win at Levante.

Cheryshev, who is on loan with the Yellow Submarine for the season from Real Madrid, struck five minutes from time to give the visitors an ideal start to their campaign.

Nigerian international Ikechukwu Uche had earlier broken the deadlock in the 55th minute in a match that had had precious few chances up until that point.

Liverpool loanee Luis Alberto scored the decisive goal on his debut for Malaga as the Andalusian side got their season off to a winning start with a 1-0 success over Athletic Bilbao in a gripping game at La Rosaleda on Saturday.

Tensions boiled over in the closing stages and two Malaga players – Duda and Vitorino Antunes – were given straight red cards for serious foul play.

There was further drama as Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz appeared to head in an equaliser in injury time – only for it to be ruled out for a foul, to the fury of the Athletic players and coaching staff.

Alberto saw a first half penalty saved by Iraizoz but knocked in the rebound and it was enough to see off the Basques, who looked as if they were still feeling the effects of their 1-1 Champions League draw with Napoli in midweek.

There was also late drama up the road in Seville, where 10-man Valencia snatched a 1-1 draw at Europa League champions Sevilla.

Sevilla looked on course for an opening-day victory after taking a 44th-minute lead through Aleix Vidal and then seeing Valencia substitute Rodrigo de Paul’s sent off just 63 seconds into his debut for a flailing elbow.

However, with just two minutes left on the clock, Valencia salvaged a point when Lucas Orban scored a rather unorthodox goal – best described as a diving shoulder into the net.

Granada, meanwhile, came from a goal down to sink promoted Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 and get off to a winning start under new coach Joaquin Caparros.

The visitors took a first-half lead through Ivan Cavaleiro, aided by some suspect goalkeeping from Stole Dimitrievski, but Ruben Rochina levelled 10 minutes into the second half before Jean Sylvain Babin netted the winner with 13 minutes to go.

In the late game, Sergio Garcia scored the latest of late equalisers to earn 10-man Espanyol a point from a 1-1 draw at Almeria.

Fernando Soriano managed to get the ball past resilient visiting goalkeeper Francisco Casilla and the Catalans had to close ranks after Anaitz Arbilla was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.

But Almeria failed to finish their opponents off and were duly punished as Sergio Garcia smashed home a stoppage-time equaliser.


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