Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Real off to winning, but lackluster start, Atletico held

AFP, MADRID

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo on Monday celebrates after scoring in their La Liga opener against Cordoba at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

Photo: AFP

Real Madrid got their La Liga campaign off to a winning start as they beat newly promoted Cordoba 2-0 at home, but champions Atletico Madrid failed to do the same as they were held 0-0 away to Rayo Vallecano de Madrid on Monday.

Yet like their city rivals a Real without the Manchester United-bound Angel di Maria were far from convincing at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Los Blancos got the three points thanks to Karim Benzema’s first-half header and a characteristic thumping finish into the bottom corner from Cristiano Ronaldo in stoppage-time.

Cordoba were playing their first top-flight game for 43 years and nearly had a dream start against Real when Mike Havenaar pulled his shot just wide.

The hosts slowly began to impose themselves on the visitors as the first half wore on until Benzema ended his four-month goal drought at club level with a thumping header to power Toni Kroos’ corner in.

Despite failing to shine, Real did eventually ensure they started with a win as Ronaldo picked up the ball midway inside the Cordoba half and strode forward before unleashing a fine shot low past Juan Carlos.

There was no such joy for Atletico, as they played out a boring draw with coach Diego Simeone in the stands.

Mario Mandzukic was the match winner against Real, but the Croatian striker had an evening to forget at the Campo the Futbol de Vallecas on Monday as he wasted his side’s best two openings toward the end of the first half.

Rayo had by far the better of the second half, but despite their failings going forward, the visitors remained solid at the back.

Simeone had been handed an eight-match touchline ban earlier in the day for his conduct toward the officials in the second leg of Los Colchoneros’ Supercopa victory over Real on Friday.

The Argentine was sent off for striking the fourth official lightly on the back of the head after Atletico rightback Juanfran had to wait an age to be allowed back onto the field following a facial injury. Simeone was handed a four-match ban for that, a further two for protesting, one for sarcastically applauding the decision and a final match for watching the second half from the front row of the stands.

The 44-year-old also received a 4,805 euro (US$6,400) fine, with the club fined 2,800 euros. They have 10 days to appeal the decision.

Simeone was already suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards last season and will also watch Atletico’s opening UEFA Champions League game for storming onto the pitch in May’s final against Real.

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