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La Liga Wrap: Barcelona, Real start strongly

By Football News



Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona have begun their title defence in style, belting Levante 7-0 at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Under new coach Gerardo Marino, the Catalans put six goals past their hapless opponents in the first half and took the foot off the pedal in the second to record the crushing victory.

Manchester United target Cesc Fabregas squared the opener for Alexis Sanchez after three minutes before Lionel Messi and Pedro exchanged a one-two allowing the FIFA World Player of the Year to grab the second goal in the 12th minute.

Levante were 4-0 down on 26 minutes as Dani Alves finished a slick passing move before Pedro profited from Messi's deft through ball  to add another goal.

But it was to get worse with Messi converting a penalty in the 42nd minute after Adriano was fouled in the area and Xavi rounded out the first-half scoring with a quality finish from Fabregas' lobbed pass.

The visitors stemmed the bleeding in the second half but there was still time for Pedro to complete his brace on 73 minutes.

Much-hyped signing Neymar made his Barcelona debut, coming off the bench for the final 25 minutes.

Real Madrid also got their league campaign off to a winning start, coming from behind to beat Real Betis 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jorge Molina gave Betis a stunning lead in the 14th minute before Karim Benzema cancelled out that effort 12 minutes later.

Isco, a new signing from Malaga, popped up in the 86th minute to grab the winner, delighting the Madrid fans with a debut goal.

Atletico Madrid won 3-1 away at Sevilla in a spiteful encounter which saw nine players yellow carded.

While Sevilla dominated possession, Atletico were much more clinical with striker Diego Costa scoring as brace either side of Diego Perotti's equaliser.

The game was finished off by Atletico's Cristian Rodriguez, who converted Leo Baptistao's assist.

First-half goals through Youssef El-Arabi and Hassan Yebda powered Granada to a 2-1 triumph at Osasuna.

Francisco Punal pulled a goal back for Osasuna in the 58th minute but the home side could not find the equaliser.