Robert Lewandowski’s Barcelona debut ended in a goalless home draw against Vallecano Ray at Camp Nou in their first La Liga game of the season.
It was a disappointing night for Barca whose fans showed up at an almost sold-out stadium to see their new team headed by the Poland striker Lewandowski, the twice the Fifa Player of the Year, and the Brazil winger Raphinha.
Barcelona dominated the match with almost 70% of possession and 18 goal attempts against two for Rayo. But the two best chances fell to the visitors, Álvaro García thwarted by a brilliant save by Marc Andre ter Stegen and Sergio Camello shooting wide. As the frustration mounted for Barça, their captain, Sergio Busquets, he lost his cool and was sent off for an elbow to the face of Radamel Falcao in stoppage time.
In Italy, the champions Milan turned an early one-goal deficit into a 4-2 win over Udinese at San Siro, ensuring a winning start to their campaign in an electrifying Serie A opener.
Two goals by Croatia international Ante Rebic plus strikes by Theo Hernandez and Brahim Díaz helped the Rossoneri to recover from their early shock after Udinese defender Rodrigo Becão put the visitors ahead 90 seconds into the game.
The Brazil defender, who decided in a corner from a tight angle, scored for the fifth time in Serie A at the start of his third season in Italy.
“What didn’t we like? Surely the fact that we conceded a goal in such a short time, we have to start games better,” the Milan coach, Stefano Pioli, said. “Then we played half an hour of great football.”
Milan equalized in the 11th minute through a penalty from Hernandez, after the referee pointed to the spot following a VAR review when captain Davide Calabria was fouled by Udinese defender Brandon Soppy.
Four minutes later Rebic made it 2-1 with a powerful first-time shot, but Udinese defender Adam Masina leveled with a diving header to stun the home crowd just before half-time.
One minute into the second half midfielder Díaz again put Milan ahead after a mistake by the Udinese defence. Díaz rifled in the ball from close range after Hernandez sent a cross into the box and it bounced off Masina. The goal fired up Udinese, but Rebic smashed another shot past keeper Marco Silvestri into the top left corner in the 68th minute to give the hosts breathing space and match his tally of two goals in the whole of last season.
Neymar scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain thumped Montpelier 5-2 in Ligue 1 at the Parc des Princes while 10-man Monaco had to settle for a home point against Rennes.
Kylian Mbappé and debutant Renato Sanches were also on target for PSG, who were set on their way by an own goal by the Montpellier defender Falaye Sacko as the home side made it two wins from two at the start of their title defence.
Mbappé had a penalty saved by a diving Jonas Omlin in the Montpellier goal after a Jordan Ferri handball midway through the first half, but it provided a temporary reprieve for the visitors.
Sacko conceded another penalty after handling the ball in the box. Neymar stepped up for PSG and made no mistake with the spot-kick to give his side a 2-0 half-time lead.
Neymar added a second soon after the break, heading home a rebound. Montpellier were given hope when Khazri pulled a goal back just before the hour-mark, but when Mbappé finally got on the scoresheet 10 minutes later, that was the end of the contest.
PSG extended their advantage through Sanches on his debut after his move from Lille. Enzo Tchato pulled another goal back for Montpellier with virtually the last kick of the game, but it was a comfortable victory for the home side.
Earlier, Monaco came from behind to claim a point in a 1-1 home draw with Rennes, a match in which they were reduced to 10 men early on and missed a penalty. Youssouf Fofana was shown a straight red card inside 15 minutes for a stamp on Rennes’ Martin Terrier. Monaco won a first half spot-kick that was missed by Axel Disasi as Rennes goalkeeper Steve Mandanda made the save.
Gaetan Laborde opened the scoring for Rennes early in the second period, but a disastrous error from replacement goalkeeper Dogan Alemdar, on for Mandanda at half-time and who dallied on the ball to allow Breel Embolo to nick it from him and score his first Monaco goal, meant the points were shared.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism