Real Sociedad warmed up for their UEFA Champions League playoff first leg with Olympique Lyonnais tomorrow in fine fashion as goals from Carlos Vela and Haris Seferovic handed them a 2-0 opening day victory over Getafe in La Liga.
The Basques put the departures of manager Philippe Montanier and star midfielder Asier Illarramendi to Stade Rennais and Real Madrid respectively behind them with a display full of invention that was too much for a disappointing Getafe side.
Vela opened the scoring three minutes before halftime with a neatly chipped finish from Chori Castro’s pass and the Mexican then turned provider for the second as Seferovic sealed the victory 20 minutes from time.
“This game gives us three points and reaffirms that the team can compete well,” said new manager Jagoba Arrasate, who was also making his debut as a senior coach having only previously coached Sociedad’s youth sides. “It was important to start well and the overall evaluation of the performance is very positive.”
With an eye on tomorrow’s clash in France, Arrasate had opted to leave the creative talents of Antoine Griezmann and Xavi Prieto on the bench, and with last season’s top scorer Imanol Agirretxe also missing through injury, the hosts took some time to get into their stride.
When they did eventually threaten the Getafe goal, though, it was the lively Seferovic who sparked the move as he slid in Castro on the left side of the box and his thunderous effort came back off the underside of the bar.
Ruben Pardo then had an even better opportunity to give the hosts the lead from another Seferovic pass just after the half-hour mark, but he skewed his shot just wide from the edge of the area.
However, Sociedad had to wait just another 10 minutes to open their account for the campaign as a precise through ball from Castro put Vela through on goal and he delicately lifted the ball over the advancing Miguel Angel Moya to open the scoring.
Getafe posed more of a threat after the break and could easily have been level three minutes after the restart when Pablo Sarabia’s curling effort from the edge of the area was deflected just past the far post.
Luis Garcia’s side were then left to rue missing an incredible chance 21 minutes from time when substitute Miku cushioned a header into Diego Castro’s path, but he somehow blazed wildly over from close range.
Within a minute Sociedad had sealed all three points when Vela released Seferovic in behind the Getafe defense and he capped a fine debut with another dinked finish over Moya from a tight angle.
Valencia, who were edged out of fourth place by Sociedad on the final day of last season, also got off to a winning start against a much-changed Malaga side thanks to Ricardo Costa’s solitary second-half goal.
In a game devoid of clear goalscoring opportunities, it was fitting that the only goal arrived via an error when Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero flapped at a looping ball inside the area and the ball fell perfectly for Costa to fire low into the net.
Sociedad’s Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao were also victorious in their first match under new manager Ernesto Valverde as they beat Real Valladolid 2-1.
New signing Benat Extebarria had a hand in a wonderful team move that resulted in Markel Susaeta firing home the opener on 28 minutes.
The lead lasted barely three minutes, though, as Patrick Ebert’s composed finish brought Valladolid level.
However, the visitors were to have the last word when Iker Muniain pounced to prod home after Marc Valiente had turned Andoni Iraola’s cross against his own post.