Dull draw for Real Madrid, pleasant win for Barcelona

Dull draw for Real Madrid, pleasant win for Barcelona

Jose Mourinho made a poor start to his spell as Real Madrid coach on Sunday, with a dull 0-0 draw away to well-drilled Mallorca, dpa reported.

Earlier on Sunday, Barcelona had kicked off their campaign to retain the Liga title with an emphatic 3-0 win away to Racing Santander, with handsome goals from Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa.

Mallorca's hero against Real was Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Aouate, who pulled off sharp saves from Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Real looked solid in defence but ponderous in midfield and imprecise in attack.

Mourinho raised eyebrows by leaving German newbies Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil on the subs' bench. They came on towards the end and almost conjured up the winning goal between them.

Jorge Valdano, Real's general director, admitted that the whites were "imprecise and short of rhythm," but pointed out that "this was a typical early season match, with too many interruptions."

Valdano finished by saying that "we created good chances at the end, and really deserved to win."

Real keeper Iker Casillas, who hardly had a shot to save, said: "We will have to improve, but I do like this team. We created clear chances and should have scored."

When asked about the differences between Real and Barcelona, Spain's World Cup captain replied that "they have their style and we have ours, that is all there is to it."

Barca had earlier enjoyed their romp in Santander, in which Villa scored on his league debut.

The Barca newcomer said that "this was exactly the start that I had been hoping for. I have joined a great team, and I am pride that they came looking for me."

Villa added that it is "a real pleasure" to play alongside Messi. "Whoever cannot play with Messi is not fit to play football at all."

He refused to comment on the controversial sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to AC Milan, saying simply that "we have a really good squad here and we are determined to do well this season."

Veteran Barca captain Carles Puyol pulled a muscle in the pre- match warmup and playmaker Xavi limped off at half-time with a similar injury. Nonetheless, the champions were always in the driving seat, against opponents whose every mistake was harshly punished.

Messi opened the scoring after just three minutes with a classy right-foot chip after being played through by Iniesta. Thirty minutes later Spain's World Cup final hero made it 2-0 with an impudent long- range volley after Santander keeper Tono had failed to clear a centre properly.

The hosts were given a dubious penalty for an alleged trip by Maxwell on Francis, but Barca keeper Victor Valdes acrobatically saved the spot-kick of Mohamed Tchite.

It would be Santander's only clear chance of the match. Villa made it 3-0 on the hour with his first goal for Barca, heading in a perfect centre from Dabi Alves.

Earlier on Sunday, there were debut defeats for Villarreal and Getafe, both of whom were expected to do well this season.

Villarreal crashed 1-0 away to newly promoted Real Sociedad, while Getafe lost 3-1 against Espanyol.

Real Sociedad, who have just returned to La Liga after three years in the second division, dominated from start to finish and won thanks to a 58th minute goal from Xabi Prieto, who finished calmly after playing a clever one-two with Joseba Llorente.

Llorente said, "We knew that it was important for us to make a good start today and that is exactly what we have done, thanks to our hard work."

Getafe, who finished sixth last season, never looked comfortable against lively Espanyol, who had a two-goal hero in Argentine striker Pablo Osvaldo.

Osvaldo gave the hosts the lead in the 34th minute after being set up by Jose Callejon and then took advantage of a blunder by Miguel Torres to make it 2-0 10 minutes into the second half.

Espanyol defender Ernesto Galan scored a clumsy own goal, but Jesu Datolo made it 3-1 in stoppage time after another swift break from Callejon.

Sunday's other early games were 0-0 draws between Deportivo Coruna and Zaragoza, and between Osasuna and Almeria, for whom defender Carlos Garcia was sent off.

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