La Liga Wrap: Atletico, Barcelona finally drop points
By Football News
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both saw their 100 per cent starts to the Liga season end on Saturday as they dropped points on the road.
The two sides went into the weekend hoping to become the first teams to win their opening nine league matches since Real Madrid in the 1968-69 season, but they both failed.
Atletico were defeated 1-0 by Espanyol at Cornella El-Prat, with the Barcelona-based club relying on a slice of luck for their solitary strike.
Sergio Garcia did well down the left before crossing, with Thibaut Courtois in the Atletico goal failing to deal with it properly as he diverted the ball into his own net.
Diego Costa went close several times, but the Brazilian could not add to his tally of 10 league goals as Javier Aguirre’s side ended their run of three consecutive league defeats.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino was able to call upon the services of club captain Carles Puyol for the first time as the 35-year-old completed his return from a seven-month injury lay-off in the 0-0 draw with Osasuna.
Lionel Messi, however, could only take a place among the substitutes at El Sadar following his hamstring strain and when he did eventually get on he made little impact.
The champions dominated proceedings but were poor in front of goal, with Cesc Fabregas missing several excellent opportunities.
In the day’s early kick-off, Real Madrid made sure they gained ground on their rivals by beating Malaga 2-0 at the Bernabeu.
The Andalusian club had never beaten Real in the capital and that did not look like changing as the hosts cruised to the victory in impressive fashion via goals from Angel di Maria and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty after Weligton had hauled down Gareth Bale.
Real Sociedad picked up their first win since the season’s opening weekend as they beat Valencia 2-1 at Mestalla.
Antoine Griezmann broke the deadlock in the 41st minute as he latched on to David Zurutuza’s header and smashed a half-volley past the helpless Vicente Guaita.
Ruben Pardo doubled the lead just before the hour mark with an excellent finish from range and although Dorlan Pabon struck in stoppage time, Sociedad held on to secure a win that moves them into the top half of the table.