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La Liga: Villa’s return a boost for new Barça boss

Barcelona’s new coach Tito Vilanova had a thrilling start against Real Sociedad, while Real Madrid stumbled against Valencia.


Gonzalo Higuaín in action for Real Madrid.

Gonzalo Higuaín scored against Valencia at the weekend. Photo: Real Madrid.

La Liga returned at the weekend, and while sports daily Marca may have had a front cover dedicated to the seemingly duel never-ending duel between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, a marginally less celebrated player, who could prove the key to FC Barcelona’s attempts to wrestle the league title back from Real Madrid, was also back and doing what he does best.

David Villa marked his return from an eight-month layoff by netting Barça’s final goal in a 5-1 drubbing of Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou. He scored in the 84th minute, having come on as a substitute only seven minutes earlier to a standing ovation. The Asturian striker’s relief was evident as he wheeled away in celebration, removing his shirt to reveal a t-shirt dedicated to his wife and daughters.

In December, while playing in the FIFA Club World Cup against Al Sadd in Yokohama, Villa broke his tibia. It was a big blow to his club who lost one of their leading goalscorers for the remainder of the campaign and left the Catalans limited in their options going forward and relying heavily on the goals of Messi.

Spain’s all-time leading scorer, with 51 international goals, would also miss out on the European Championships and the Spanish national team’s historic third consecutive tournament win.

Villa’s club side, meanwhile, got off to the best possible start on Sunday as they put five goals past visitors Real Sociedad with Messi scoring a double and Pedro and Carles Puyol also getting on the scoresheet. The World Player of the Year, who scored a league record 50 goals last season, picked up where he left off with two quick strikes to give his side a 3-1 lead inside 15 minutes.

New-look Valencia thwart Madrid

It was also the perfect debut for new manager Tito Vilanova as his side currently top the standings. José Mourinho was not as pleased with his own team’s result. The reigning league champions got their campaign off to a bad start as they were held 1-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu by a new-look Valencia side.

Los Merengues had dominated early on but found themselves frustrated by Los Che and outstanding saves from goalkeeper Diego Alves. Starting brightly, Gonzalo Higuaín gave Madrid a 10th-minute lead from an Ángel di María cross.

The visitors had few ideas going forward in the sweltering heat but levelled the scores when Jonas headed in from a free-kick.

While trying to defend the goal, Madrid Captain Iker Casillas and his teammate Pepe endured a bloody clash of heads and while the goalkeeper stated he remembered nothing from the incident, the defender’s injury proved more alarming. At the break, he began to vomit in the changing room and when questioned by club medics, he appeared confused, not knowing where he was and insisting his name was Pablo. He was immediately transferred to hospital and spent the night, before being discharged the following day.

Another striker who made his mark at the weekend was Fabrice Olinga. You may not have heard of him before this weekend but his name has now gone down in the history books.

On Saturday night, with the scores level at 0-0, Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini sent on a 16-year-old kid to make his mark against newly promoted Celta Vigo. With six minutes remaining, the Cameroonian, who had only arrived in Mallorca at the age of 12 thanks to the Samuel Eto’o Foundation, bundled the ball in off his thigh from close range. Overtaking Athletic Bilbao forward Iker Muniain in the record books (who was 16 years and 289 days old when he netted his debut strike in October 2009), at 16 years and 93 days, Olinga became the youngest goalscorer ever in La Liga.


Celta de Vigo 0 – 1 Málaga CF

Sevilla FC 2 – 1 Getafe CF

RCD Mallorca 2 – 1 RCD Espanyol

Real Madrid 1 – 1 Valencia CF

Athletic Bilbao 3 – 5 Real Betis

FC Barcelona 5 – 1 Real Sociedad

Levante UD 1 – 1 Atlético Madrid

Deportivo La Coruña 2 – 0 Osasuna

Rayo Vallecano 1 – 0 Granada CF

Real Zaragoza 0 – 1 Real Valladolid

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Published: Aug 22 2012
Category: Sports, Spain News
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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