Villa in goals again as Valencia start with a swagger

Spain's European championship hero David Villa celebrated his contract extension at Valencia with a goal as his side routed Real Mallorca 3-0 on Saturday.

Villa, top-scorer at Euro 2008, was the subject of intense interest from Real Madrid in the summer but signed a new deal at Valencia until 2014 and struck on 34 minutes as he continued his purple patch in front of goal, the AFP reported.

"We showed the Valencia of last year (that finished 10th in the league) is a thing of the past," said Villa.

"The club wanted to keep me and I feel comfortable here so it is all fine. It is just nice to get back to scoring goals."

Juan Mata added a second three minutes later and Vicente struck late on to give new coach Unai Emery a winning start and help Valencia forget about their nightmare Supercup defeat against Real Madrid six days ago.

Goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand paid the price for his poor Supercup displays with Emery leaving the German out of the squad and Brazilian Renan Brito made his debut between the sticks but had little to do.

Mallorca, who sold star striker Daniel Guiza in the summer, did hit the post but always looked shaky at the back.

Earlier Espanyol shrugged off the loss of departing first team stars Albert Riera and Pablo Zabaleta to defeat Valladolid 1-0 on Saturday in the curtain raiser of the 2008/09 Spanish league season.

Spanish international Riera is poised to join Liverpool while Zabaleta, part of the Argentina side that won Olympic gold, is bound for Manchester City in an eight-million-euro move.

Espanyol's Luis Garcia, still recovering from the disappointment of being dropped from the Spain squad shortly before Euro 2008, had the honour of scoring the first goal of the new season a minute after the break.

It proved enough as Espanyol won their first league match since mid-March while new coach Bartolome Marquez enjoyed a winning start in his first match in charge.

"The team did well and we won so I am happy although we suffered far too much in the final few minutes," explained Marquez.

Reigning champions Real Madrid start their title defence at Deportivo La Coruna in Sunday's late match.

Brazilian Robinho has spent most of this week angling for a move to Chelsea and coach Bernd Schuster confirmed he had left the winger out of the travelling party.

"I made the decision. He's under pressure from his entourage and not fit to play," said Schuster."He's got too much on his mind at the moment."

Real are bidding for a third straight title but have not won at the Riazor since the 1991/92 season.

Barcelona are also away on Sunday travelling to promoted Numancia in Pep Guardiola's first league match in charge. Last season Barca were a soft touch on their travels and Guardiola wants that to change.

"The opponents, pitch and referee are not important we just have to win," said Guardiola.

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