Thursday 20 July 2017

Benitez's false start

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
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

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.

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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