Sociedad beats Getafe 2-0 to open Spanish league
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Carlos Vela scored one goal and set up another Saturday as Real Sociedad picked up where it left off last season by outclassing Getafe 2-0 with its exquisite flowing attack to inaugurate the Spanish league at Anoeta Stadium.
The Mexico forward netted the first goal of the 2013-14 season from a pass by Gonzalo “Chori” Castro in the 42nd, and then assisted Haris Seferovic for the new signing to get a deserved goal in the 70th.
Later, Ernesto Valverde began his second stint as the coach of Athletic Bilbao with a 2-1 win at Valladolid, while Valencia marked coach Miroslav Djukic’s first game in charge with a 1-0 victory over visiting Malaga.
Sociedad showed no signs of the transition from former manager Philippe Montanier to promoted assistant Jagoba Arrasate as it maintained its passing style that last season earned it a playoff for the Champions League group phase beginning Tuesday at Lyon.
“It was important to start off on the right foot,” said Arrasate. “This reaffirms that this team knows how to compete. Without a doubt it gives us confidence. We know the game on Tuesday will be difficult but we are excited to play what will be a historic game for Real Sociedad.”
Seferovic was particularly active early on in San Sebastian, going close several times and passing for Castro to force goalkeeper Miguel Moya to push his rising shot onto the bar.
Castro helped Sociedad convert its dominant possession into the opener when he used one touch to play Vela clear of the defense. Vela did the rest by coolly chipping the ball over the onrushing Moya to record the first goal of the season.
Moments after Diego Castro had Getafe’s best scoring opportunity, Vela picked out Seferovic’s run and slipped the ball through for the Swiss to dink it over Moya from a tight angle and secure the three points.
Valverde first coached Bilbao from 2003-05 and returned on a two-year contract after the Basque club didn’t offer Marcelo Bielsa an extension following a disappointing second campaign under the Argentine last season.
And while Bilbao still showed some frailties in defense, it was sound enough to hold off Valladolid’s late surge to give Valverde a bright second start.
Markel Susaeta finished off a brilliant combination of one-touch passes from a corner kick to put Bilbao ahead in the 28th. Bilbao worked the ball away from Valladolid’s area before new arrival Benat Etxebarria used a no-look pass to serve Susaeta inside the box for the forward to fire home.
Patrick Ebert drilled in Valladolid’s equalizer three minutes later when Oscar Gonzalez spotted him arriving late to the area unmarked by the visiting defense.
But Iker Muniain was quick to pounce and knock in a ball sent off the post by Valladolid defender Marc Valiente to restore Bilbao’s lead for good five minutes after halftime. Ander Herrera nearly extended the advantage when he hit the goal frame in the 75th.
Valverde said his side lacked pace in the first half but he was pleased with its performance, above all in being efficient in attack.
“We came from a preseason where we created a lot of scoring chances but lacked the precision to finish them off,” he said. “Today it was the opposite. We didn’t have too many but scored twice. The first was a beautiful goal, by the way. I was convinced that we had players of sufficient quality up front not only to create chances but to convert them as well, and today we did that.”
After a dull 63 minutes at Mestalla Stadium, Ricardo Costa took what proved to be the winner for Valencia when Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero fumbled his attempt to catch a looping high ball, with the ball falling for the defender to stab in.
While Djukic enjoyed his first win, Malaga’s Bernd Schuster saw his new team struggle to produce scoring opportunities. The former Barcelona and West Germany midfielder took over Malaga from Manuel Pellegrini this offseason and has received a squad depleted of its main players following the exit of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon and Jeremy Toulalan, among others.
Barcelona opens its title defense on Sunday at home against Levante, while Real Madrid hosts Real Betis, Atletico Madrid visits Sevilla, and Granada is at Osasuna.
On Monday, both the promoted Villarreal and Almeria face one another, while Elche— the third newcomer to the topflight— visits Rayo Vallecano, and Celta Vigo hosts Espanyol.