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Monday 18 December 2017

Mourinho endures debut stalemate

European round-up

Jose Mourinho's La Liga adventure got off to a limp start last night when Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw at Real Mallorca while champions Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win at Racing Santander.

Snapped up after last season's treble-winning exploits with Inter Milan, Mourinho's arrival as coach at the Bernabeu has raised expectations he can end Barcelona's two-year reign as champions.

While his new team were struggling to click in Mallorca, Pep Guardiola's well-drilled outfit banged in three goals thanks to a fine lob from Lionel Messi after just two minutes, followed by Andres Iniesta and David Villa strikes.

Real Madrid's Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain was denied three times by home goalkeeper Dudu Aouate and Cristiano Ronaldo spurned a great chance as the visitors upped the pressure.

Mourinho's new signings Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Canales and Ricardo Carvalho all featured but despite a frantic finish Michael Laudrup's Mallorca were worth their point.

In Italy, Juventus lost 1-0 at Bari in their first game of the season yesterday when their problems from last term were again exposed despite big spending in the transfer window.

First-half substitute Massimo Donati blasted home from outside the area two minutes before the break to seal a deserved victory for Bari, who could have scored more.

Juve, Italy's most successful domestic club, who finished a dismal seventh last season, have already been in competitive action this term in Europa League qualifiers, but new coach Luigi Del Neri watched on in horror as they struggled in all areas.

AC Milan's latest recruit Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not yet eligible for yesterday's opener with Lecce as his new team-mates ran riot in a 4-0 win at San Siro. Brazilian Pato hit a first-half brace either side of Thiago Silva's strike with Filippo Inzaghi adding a fourth. Champions Inter visit Bologna tonight.

Irish Independent

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