/ Soccer

La Liga round-up: Barcelona defeat Malaga

Updated: Sunday, 25 Aug 2013 22:24 | Comments

Adriano is mobbed following his goal
Adriano is mobbed following his goal

Barcelona survived a couple of second-half scares to secure a nervous 1-0 win at Malaga on Sunday and maintain their perfect start to their La Liga title defence.

The champions were missing the injured Lionel Messi and struggled to find a way through the home defence until fullback Adriano cut in from the right and curled a powerful shot into the far corner moments before halftime.

Barca defender Gerard Pique diverted the ball onto the crossbar with his back in the 58th minute before Malaga came desperately close to an equaliser.

Roque Santa Cruz found space on the left and cut the ball back from the byline but teenage forward Fabrice Olinga scuffed his shot and it bounced away off a post.

Barca's new signing Neymar looked sharp when he came off the bench with around half an hour left and the Brazil forward drew a fine save from goalkeeper Willy Caballero with a free kick.

Caballero's opposite number Victor Valdes then rescued his team with a superb point-blank save from substitute Seba Fernandez's header and a deflected Neymar shot flew narrowly over in a frantic finale.

The victory leaves Barca at the top of the standings after two matches following their 7-0 drubbing of Levante in last weekend's opening game.

Atletico Madrid also have six points in second after Turkey playmaker Arda Turan produced a masterclass to help them to a 5-0 drubbing of city rivals Rayo Vallecano in the earlier kickoff at the Calderon.

Arda Turan

Carlos Vela helped Real Sociedad overcome a European hangover when he grabbed a second-half equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw at promoted Elche on Saturday.

Valencia, expected to challenge Sociedad for a top-four finish next May, lost 3-1 at Espanyol despite having taken an early lead though Helder Postiga.

Sociedad impressed in their 2-0 Champions League playoff first leg win at Olympique Lyonnais in midweek but were second best for much of the game at Elche.

Playing their first home game back in the top-flight, the hosts took the lead after two minutes when a corner flashed across the area and Ferran Corominas stabbed the ball in at the back post.

Sociedad were lucky not to concede again and struggled to get into the game until Elche's earlier efforts started to take their toll in the second half.

A cross from the right found Vela unmarked in the area after 74 minutes and the Mexico forward scuffed a shot inside the far post.

Former Arsenal striker Vela then curled a long-range effort against the crossbar near the end.

Sociedad play their return match at home to Lyon this Wednesday.

Espanyol made a strong start against Valencia and had already missed three gilt-edged chances to score when, against the run of play, the visitors took the lead in the 10th minute.

Jonas laid the ball off for Postiga and the Portugal striker, brought in to replace Tottenham Hotspur new boy Roberto Soldado, netted his first goal for the club.

Postiga

Espanyol levelled when David Lopez nodded in a corner in the 32nd minute and Cristian Stuani put them in front with a header which flew in off the far post past a stationary Diego Alves two minutes into the second half.

The hosts were lucky to still have 11 men on the pitch after Simao caught Adil Rami in the face with his elbow but they successfully foiled a Valencia side struggling to click under new coach Miroslav Djukic.

With two minutes to go French forward Thievy Bifouma thundered a shot into the top corner for Espanyol.

Athletic Bilbao paid tribute to their supporters after an estimated 20,000 travelled an hour along the north coast of Spain to see their 2-0 'home' victory over Osasuna in La Liga on Friday.

Bilbao, playing at Real Sociedad's ground while construction work is carried out on their new venue that is due to open next month, organised 328 buses to transport their fans to the Anoeta stadium.

Real Madrid travel to Granada on Monday night.

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