Thu, Sep 26, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Barca, Atletico maintain perfect starts to La Liga

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona’s Neymar, right, tries to score against Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in their La Liga match at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Barcelona extended their 100 percent La Liga record to six games with a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad on Tuesday as Atletico Madrid also maintained their perfect start to the season.

Neymar scored his first La Liga goal as Barca turned in arguably their best performance so far under new boss Gerardo Martino.

The Brazilian bundled home Alexis Sanchez’s cross after just five minutes and then expertly teed up Lionel Messi to plant a diving header past Claudio Bravo three minutes later.

Sergio Busquets added a third before halftime with a sweet strike from 18m to register his first goal of the season, before Marc Bartra rounded off the scoring for the hosts after Alberto de la Bella had pulled a goal back for Sociedad.

“I am very happy to score my first goal in the league but the most important thing is the victory,” Neymar told Canal Plus television.

Amazingly, the visitors made the brighter start, with Haris Seferovic striking the bar from long range inside two minutes. However, the game was virtually lost for them just six minutes later.

Firstly, a horrible defensive mix-up between Liassine Cadamuro and Bravo allowed Neymar to bundle home his first and possibly easiest goal he will ever score for Barca at the Camp Nou.

Three minutes later, the Brazilian delivered a perfect left-footed cross which Messi headed home at the far post.

It did not take the hosts long to register their third of the evening. Messi’s back-heel was well saved by Bravo and the Argentin’s follow-up effort somehow hit the bar and post on its way out, but Busquets finally fired home the rebound from outside the area.

Barca were then dealt an injury blow as Javier Mascherano came off with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Bartra 10 minutes before the break.

However, the hosts were still in full flow and nearly produced a goal-of-the-season contender as Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Neymar all combined inside the area before the Argentine unbelievably failed to connect properly on his left foot to turn Neymar’s cut-back home.

Messi did not have his best night in front of goal, blasting another glaring opportunity over the bar after accelerating past three defenders in the start of the second period.

Sociedad had a glimmer of hope when Agirretxe held off Gerard Pique and squared for De la Bella to tap home 26 minutes from time.

However, Barca’s three-goal advantage was restored 12 minutes later when Messi wriggled his way toward the by-line and his low cross was guided home by Bartra.

Atletico made much harder work of registering their sixth straight victory with a 2-1 win over struggling CA Osasuna.

Diego Costa had put the hosts in a commanding position with two goals inside the opening 25 minutes, but Oriol Riera halved the deficit for the visitors just before halftime.

Diego Simeone’s men then passed up a host of chances to make the game safe in the second period, but held on to ensure they will head into Saturday’s derby against Real Madrid at least two points ahead of Los Blancos.

Elsewhere, Malaga continued their recent revival with a 2-0 win over UD Almeria thanks to second-half goals from Fernando Tissone and Francisco Portillo, while Valladolid held on to claim a point in a 1-1 draw away to Levante UD despite playing the entire second half with just 10 men.

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