FC Barcelona maintained their winning start to the season with a fine strike from Adriano Correia giving them a 1-0 victory over Valencia in La Liga action on Sunday.
The Catalan side may have lost the domestic Super Cup to Real Madrid in midweek, but they have now picked up maximum points from their first three league games and are firmly set at the top of the table.
They also maintained their five-point lead over defending champions Real, who earlier beat Granada 3-0, Cristiano Ronaldo hitting a brace to reach a landmark 150 goals in 149 games for the capital club.
Barca full-back Adriano’s drive from outside the area after 23 minutes was the only goal of the game at the Camp Nou against a Valencia side who battled hard, but spent most of the game defending deeply.
Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song made his first start in a Barca shirt with Sergio Busquets rested and played alongside Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas who returned to the starting line-up.
Roberto Soldado went within inches of giving Valencia the lead after 11 minutes with a 23m strike which whistled past the post.
Lionel Messi had a header saved by keeper Diego Alves after 18 minutes, but the Valencia shot-stopper could do nothing about Adriano’s sweetly struck drive minutes later.
There may have been a change of manager in the summer with the departure of Pep Guardiola and the arrival of Tito Vilanova, but the soccer has remained the same and Barca knocked the ball around inside the Valencia half in trademark fashion.
Cesc had the opportunity to extend the lead, but with time in the box after receiving the ball from Messi he shot the ball wide. It has been a disappointing start to the campaign for Cesc.
Valencia were hanging on but without a second goal Barca could not relax and had their hearts in their mouth several times especially when Victor Ruiz put the ball in the back of the net on the hour mark, but was ruled off-side.
Earlier in the evening, Cristiano Ronaldo hit a brace to help Real Madrid get their league campaign back against 10-man Granada.
Despite their cup win, the pressure was starting to grow on the team with just one point from their opening games, but Ronaldo responded with a goal in either half to continue his scoring run in Madrid.
The first owed as much to poor keeping from Antonio ‘Tono’ Rodriguez as the Portuguese’s shot from a tight angle after 25 minutes went through his legs, although it did take a slight deflection off Inigo Lopez.
Ronaldo got his second after 53 minutes and Granada’s hopes of a comeback took a blow with Borja Gomez sent off six minutes later. Substitute Gonzalo Higuain completed the scoring with a tap-in 15 minutes from the end.
Still Real lacked fluidity in their passing, which manager Jose Mourinho pointed out afterwards.
Luka Modric was given a starting place and threaded the ball through to Jose Callejon inside the first few minutes, but ‘keeper Tono got down well to block him.
Ronaldo had looked sluggish in his first two league games and he failed to trouble the ‘keeper with a free-kick and a couple of shots from distance before he did break the deadlock with a soft goal from Granada’s perspective.
The visitors had shown nothing going forward and were now forced to come out of their shells, but it was Ronaldo that could have added a second before the break with a drive which Tono was alert to.