Deportivo La Coruna 0 Real Madrid 3: Bale nets as champions make confident start

Real Madrid began their LaLiga title defence with a 3-0 away win over Deportivo, Gareth Bale among the scorers.

Gareth Bale netted and Sergio Ramos saw red as Real Madrid swept to a confident 3-0 away victory over Deportivo La Coruna to open their LaLiga title defence.

Zinedine Zidane called for big year from Bale ahead of the match and the Wales international responded by scoring Madrid’s opening league goal of the season for a third consecutive campaign.

Casemiro, in with Bale as two of four changes from the Supercopa de Espana second-leg victory over Barcelona, added to his UEFA Super Cup goal against Manchester United by capping a brilliant Madrid passing move to double the visitors’ lead.

Ramos was fortunate not to be sent off for putting his hand to the face of Depor defender Fabian Schar after the break, but the captain was perhaps unlucky to receive a second yellow card in stoppage time.

Toni Kroos’ deflected strike had already sealed an impressive victory, which came without suspended star Cristiano Ronaldo and was capped by Florin Andone’s late penalty miss, ensuring Madrid went straight to the top of the table after title rivals Barca defeated Real Betis 2-0 at home earlier on Sunday.

Madrid have now won 13 of their last 14 league games against Depor as they bid to win back-to-back LaLiga titles for the first time since 2008.

Andone, linked with a Deportivo exit, failed to convert two excellent early chances. The striker created the first himself, battling past Dani Carvajal, who claimed for a foul, and forcing Keylor Navas into a good diving save from a tight angle.

Andone then missed an even better opportunity, racing through on goal in oceans of space after Juanfran’s througball, but failing to beat Navas as the Madrid goalkeeper again got down to deny him.

Those squandered chances proved costly when Madrid moved ahead in the 20th minute. Luka Modric’s shot from 20 yards was poorly dealt with by Depor goalkeeper Ruben Martinez, with Karim Benzema’s touch on the rebound allowing Bale to slam in the simplest of finishes from two yards.

Seven minutes later, Madrid doubled their lead with another close-range finish, but this time it capped a magnificent move that saw Madrid complete 44 passes before Casemiro tapped in after Marcelo worked space against Juanfran and delivered a threatening low cross.

Ramos had a lucky escape early in the second half when he was only shown a yellow card for raising his hand to the face of Schar, who was also booked, as the pair argued over whether Madrid should have kicked the ball out of play while Zakaria Bakkali was down injured.

Depor’s frustration grew when the Madrid captain then made a crucial goal-line clearance to keep out Andone’s impressive header from Bruno Gama’s cross.

And the visitors ended the game as a contest after 62 minutes, another swift passing sequence resulting in Bale setting up Kroos to fire in from 18 yards, with the aid of a deflection off Schar.

The hosts almost got one back when Guilherme turned in the box and fired a powerful effort against the crossbar.

Depor had an even better chance to end the match with a goal after being awarded an 89th-minute spot-kick when Carvajal took out Gama from behind, but Andone produced a dreadful effort that looked to be drifting off target before Navas got a faint touch to make sure he claimed a clean sheet.

But there was some frustration for Zidane, with Ramos, who had been fortunate earlier, dismissed in the second minute of added time after catching substitute Borja Valle with an arm in an aerial duel.

KEY OPTA STATS

– There were 44 passes in the build-up for Casemiro’s goal, the most before a goal in La Liga since at least 2006/07.
– Gareth Bale has ended a run of 10 games in all competitions without scoring for Real Madrid, his longest drought for the club. 
– Sergio Ramos has equaled Xavi Aguado and Pablo Alfaro as the player with the most red cards in La Liga history (18). 
– Casemiro has scored three goals in his last four starts for Real Madrid and all three in different competitions (CL final, UEFA Super Cup and La Liga). 
– Keylor Navas has kept consecutive clean sheets for Real Madrid for the first time since November 2016 (all competitions). 
– Toni Kroos has scored three goals in his last four games in La Liga, one fewer than he had in his previous 94 (four). 

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Deulofeu dedicates Barca win to victims of Las Ramblas attack

Gerard Deulofeu dedicated Barcelona’s 2-0 La Liga victory over Real Betis on Sunday to the victims of Thursday’s terror attacks in Catalonia.

The former Everton man created both goals — an Alin Tosca own-goal and Sergi Roberto’s strike — as Barca responded well to a difficult week.

The club had already paid tribute to the victims, at least 14 of whom have died, with commemorative shirts worn for the league opener, but Deulofeu felt a win was a fitting addition.

“We wanted to celebrate this victory for the victims,” he said. “What happened was terrible. It is a special victory that we dedicate to those affected.

“Let’s hope it stops already. We are not afraid, but it has to stop.”

Deulofeu’s place in the team is under pressure with reported moves for Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in the pipeline, but the Spain international delivered in the absence of the injured Luis Suarez to help Barca home.

“I am satisfied, very happy. I have played a few games and can always improve,” he said.

“I have to take risks a little more. I have come back from an injury and I have to give everything I have.”

Goalscorer Roberto was pleased with his own contribution, too, as he looks to secure a regular place in midfield, having spent last season at right-back.

“I am happy. I played a good game at the Bernabeu [in the Supercopa de Espana second leg] and today I think I have also done a good performance,” he said.

“I feel very comfortable in this position and hope to have more minutes with the coach. The coach is giving me confidence and that’s what I want.

“I want to be important, it’s the club of my life and now I’m fine.”

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No Wembley worries for Pochettino despite Spurs setback

Mauricio Pochettino dismissed any notion of a ‘Wembley effect’ after Tottenham suffered a sapping 2-1 Premier League defeat to champions Chelsea.

Marcos Alonso fired an 88th-minute winner after Spurs briefly pulled level — Michy Batshuayi’s own goal cancelling out the Spanish wing-back’s free-kick from before the interval.

It meant a losing start to life at Spurs’ temporary home while the new White Hart Lane is finished and maintained an unenviable return at the national stadium, where their Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup hopes were all extinguished last season.

“It doesn’t affect me,” Pochettino told a post-match news conference. “But I understand that we need to talk and everyone needs to talk.

“I think the ‘Wembley effect’ is not the reason we lost the game. The team played really well.

“It’s not fair to blame again Wembley because, for me, Wembley is one of the best places in the world. One of the best places to play football.”

On a follow-up question regarding the different pitch dimensions at Wembley when compared to the smaller White Hart Lane, Pochettino chuckled and replied: “Please. We need to stop.

“I think today it was clear: if you love football and watch football, and want to watch the game again.

“You will see that Wembley was not the problem. The size of the pitch? We played better and created chances to score. But that’s football.

“We have to accept they were more clinical than us in front of goal. The opportunities we created, we didn’t score.

“But the most important thing is the performance. It’s only the beginning of the season, a lot of games to play. If we play that way, we’ll win a lot of games in the future.”

Tottenham made most of the running in an attacking sense, with Harry Kane striking the base of the post in the 42nd minute as the anomaly of the England forward failing to net a Premier League goal in August remained.

Alonso’s goals were Chelsea’s only two shots on target and Pochettino added: “I am disappointed because I think we deserved more. Our performance was good.

“I think I am happy with the performance of the team. We played a good game, created the most chances.

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“But they were clinical in front of goal. They shot twice and scored twice. For us, it was difficult to score.”

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Mourinho: I have ‘faith’ in Martial to improve this season

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho backed Anthony Martial to deliver at Old Trafford this season.

Martial was absent from United’s starting XI last week but the French forward came off the bench to help Mourinho’s men to a 4-0 win over West Ham in their Premier League opener.

The 21-year-old’s future in Manchester has been questioned amid United’s pursuit of a winger but Mourinho believes the former Monaco star will shine in 2017-18.

“I have faith in him,” Mourinho said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea City. “Probably, the player I was looking at [in the transfer market] was not a pure winger, because I have pure wingers.

“The player I was looking for would allow me to play three at the back and do the wing-backs. As a pure attacking player, Martial is a good player.

“He is one of the players who will have a better season than last season. I look at my players and I am sure some will be better than they were last season, and Anthony is one of those, for sure.”

Mourinho anticipates improvement from all of his younger players, adding: “They’re all young. [Henrikh Mkhitaryan] Micki and [Juan] Mata are close to their 30s. Romelu [Lukaku] is 24, [Jesse] Lingard and [Marcus] Rashford are a good age and they’re all playing. They are also national team players with the chance to play international games.

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“We are in the Champions League, so it is the first time for Rashford to play Champions League. Anthony had a bit with Monaco, Lingard had a few matches but not more than that. For Romelu, it is the first time. For them, the Champions league can be a great experience with their development.”

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Giovinco brings Juventus ‘mentality’ to Toronto FC

Sebastian Giovinco has taken MLS by storm since joining Toronto FC over two years ago, and he can thank Juventus for his success.

Having been brought up through Juventus’ academy, Giovinco says he has brought the “mentality” of the Italian club to Toronto.

And the results have been noticeable, with TFC currently leading the Supporters’ Shield race with 13 wins, eight draws and only three losses this season.

“In Juventus you learn to win,” Giovinco told reporters. “Now I try to put this mentality here.”

Giovinco was named the league’s MVP during his first season in Toronto, as he set the MLS mark for points in a season with 22 goals and 16 assists in 2015. 

The Italy international’s numbers dropped a bit during the regular season last year (17 goals, 15 assists), but he helped guide the club to its first-ever MLS Cup final, where they lost to Seattle.

“I want to be the best,” Giovinco said. “If you score, if you assist, if you win, you are the best. If not, no.”

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