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Dublin: 4°C Friday 5 March 2021

Eurostar: Vilanova era looks bright for Barca, but it’s lights out for PSG

Join us for our weekly whistle-stop tour of the most important action from Europe’s top leagues. All aboard!

Image: Siu Wu/AP/Press Association Images

La Liga

THE MORE THINGS change, the more they stay the same. It took Lionel Messi all of 16 minutes to score his first brace of the new season as Barcelona opened their La Liga campaign with an ominous 5-1 thumping against Real Sociedad.

The Tito Vilanova era did have a nervy moment or two to begin with as Gonzalo Castro cancelled out Carles Puyol’s opener in the ninth minute. It wasn’t long until Messi took over though, with Pedro and the returning David Villa giving the goal difference an early boost for good measure.

Life wasn’t quite so rosy for the champions Real Madrid who were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia. Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring in the 10th minute, his 104th goal for Los Merengues which ties him on the all-time top scorers list with a certain Brazilian named Ronaldo.

Jonas equalised shortly before the break and Madrid were denied a winner by both the woodwork and some fine stops from Valencia keeper Diego Alves.

Real Betis were the weekend’s other big scorers as they beat Athletic Bilbao 5-3 while Malaga’s 16-year-old striker Fabrice Oliga became the league’s youngest-ever scorer when he kneed home the only goal against Celta Vigo.

Headline of the week: Mou: ”Iré donde se me quiera de verdad” (Marca) Asked about a possible return to England, José Mourinho said he will go “where people really love him.” Work it out for yourselves…

Goal of the week: It’s got to be David Villa who marked his return from a broken leg with this finish and then whipped off his jersey to reveal a t-shirt telling his wife and children that it would have been impossible without them. Oh, Iniesta does alright too.

YouTube Credit: RamadanProg

Ligue 1

Montpellier’s title defence took a grim turn on Saturday as Lorient, one of last season’s strugglers in Ligue 1, struck twice in stoppage time to snatch a 2-1 win. Emanuel Herrera gave the visitors the lead shortly before the break but when Alain Traore equalised in the 90th minute, it set the stage for Jérémie Aliadière — yes, the Aliadiére of Arsenal and Middlesbrough fame — to poke home the winner.

There was more late drama as new boys Bastia showed that they haven’t lost the winning touch that carried them to the Ligue 2 title last year. Brazilian striker Ilan’s goal in the 95th minute gave them a 2-1 win against Reims, making it two wins from two in the top flight.

Michel Bastos scored the goal of the weekend as Lyon maintained their 100% record with a 4-1 win against Troyes, while Marseille and Bordeaux also have perfect starts following wins against Rennes and Sochaux.

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And in Corsica, the lights went out on the final minutes of Ajaccio’s 0-0 draw with Paris Saint-Germain, delaying the inevitable as the giants saw Ezequiel Lavezzi sent off and Carlo Ancelotti sent to the stands.

Headline of the weekParis, plus corsé que prévu (L’Equipe) Our Leaving Cert French is good enough to translate this as “Paris, more difficult than predicted.” We’re not quite sure if it’s also a deliberate play on the fact that last night’s 0-0 draw was played in Corsica but we hope so.

Goal of the week: Bastos. Brilliant. Bicycle. BAM!

YouTube Credit: Ligue1official


Steve McClaren’s FC Twente continue to set the early pace after two rounds of matches in Dutch top flight but there are a host of unbeaten clubs massed behind, waiting to pounce on the leaders’ schlightest schlip. Leroy Fer got the game’s only goal as Twente won 1-0 on the road against NAC.

Champions Ajax sent out a strong message with a 6-1 hammering away to NEC Breda on Sunday. New boy Tobias Sana, signed in the off-season from Goteborg, scored twice in a man of the match performance on his first start for the Amsterdam giants.

Phillip Cocu’s PSV were full of goals as well as they put five past Roda JC without reply while two other Oranje legends, Ronald Koeman’s Feyenood and Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen, watched their sides share the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Headline of the week: De Boer uit zijn dak bij tegengoal (Telegraaf) Despite the fact that his side were 5-0 up at the time, Ajax boss Frank de Boer was less than pleased to see them concede a goal against NEC and hit the roof.

Goal of the week: After going a man and a goal down with less than 15 minutes to play against Heerenveen, it took a moment of class from Feyenoord’s Ruben Schaken to spare the blushes of last year’s runners-up.

YouTube Credit: goal

Irish Eye: Duffer equals Keane’s record with goal for Cottagers

VIDEO: Shhhh! Kammy is trying to sleep…

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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