Wednesday 28 September 2016

Benitez's false start

Published 24/08/2015 | 02:30

13 September 2012; Former Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez at a signing session for his new book, Champions League Dreams, which is available from Eason stores nationwide and from easons.com. Rafa Benitez Book Signing, Easons, O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
13 September 2012; Former Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez at a signing session for his new book, Champions League Dreams, which is available from Eason stores nationwide and from easons.com. Rafa Benitez Book Signing, Easons, O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

Rafa Benitez suffered an embarrassing setback in his first La Liga outing in charge of Real Madrid when they were held to a 0-0 draw at promoted Sporting Gijon in their opening match of the season last night.

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Real's expensively assembled squad, including Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive player, could not find a way past Gijon's determined defence at the Molinon.

Earlier, Barcelona got their bid for a sixth La Liga title in eight years off to a winning start when Luis Suarez buried a volley shortly after half-time to secure a hard-fought 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao.

The Spanish and European champions' victory at the San Mames, in which Lionel Messi had a first-half penalty saved, was sweet revenge following their 5-1 aggregate defeat by Bilbao in this month's Spanish Super Cup.

But it came at some cost as midfielder Sergio Busquets and full-back Dani Alves picked up injuries that ended their involvement.

Meanwhile in Italy, Serie A champions Juventus slumped to a shock 1-0 home defeat against Udinese in their opening game of the season.

Juve had not lost a home league match since January 2013 - a run of 47 games - but were undone when striker Cyril Thereau found the net from close range in the 78th minute following a superb cross from Panagiotis Kone.

In Germany, coach Pep Guardiola said that Bayern Munich were taught a lesson after conceding a goal after just eight seconds against Hoffenheim on Saturday and battling back to win 2-1.

Thomas Muller responded and the Bavarians then scored the winner through substitute Robert Lewandowski in the 90th minute.

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