Wednesday
October 1, 2014

Soccer — Spanish League

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Madrid wins, Atlético draws in openers

Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone speaks with his mobile phone inside a press box before the match.

Simeone suspended eight games over incident in Super Cup

Champions Atlético Madrid made a sluggish start to the defence of their La Liga title with a 0-0 draw against Rayo Vallecano while a header from Karim Benzema and a late Cristiano Ronaldo strike helped Real Madrid beat promoted Córdoba 2-0.

BARCELONA — Cristiano Ronaldo scored from long range to seal Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over the promoted Córdoba yesterday, while Atlético Madrid was held 0-0 at Rayo Vallecano as it stumbled at the start of its Spanish league title defence.

Ronaldo and Karim Benzema made sure that the European champions made a winning start in their league opener with goals in each half of a victory that a frisky Córdoba threatened to spoil.

Suspended coach Diego Simeone then watched from the stands at Vallecas Stadium as his Atlético failed to equal Madrid’s and Barcelona’s first-round victories.

Benzema headed in the opening goal on the half-hour mark of a first half that Madrid dominated under the direction of new signing Toni Kroos.

But Córdoba surged forward in the second half, turning its first game in the topflight in 42 years into an evenly matched contest against the Champions League winners.

Ronaldo shook off an otherwise drab performance with a strike that only few can match when he blasted in a right-foot shot from well outside the area in the 90th.

“We begin suffering, but with a win. So that’s fine,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. “Cristiano isn’t fully fit, like the rest of the group. But this week of work will help us in that sense.”

Ronaldo and the rest of Madrid were eager to rebound from its 1-0 loss at Atlético on Friday that cost it the Spanish Super Cup, and to match Barcelona’s strong start from Sunday when Lionel Messi scored twice to beat Elche 3-0.

Ronaldo, who only played the second half of Friday’s loss as he nurses a left leg injury, started yesterday’s match but spent more time protesting than creating scoring opportunities.

Yet when his chance finally came after Córdoba lost the ball in its half, the reigning world player of the year unleashed a powerful strike that beat diving goalkeeper Juan Carlos.

It was the Portugal forward’s third goal in four games in all competitions to start the season after only scoring once in a disappointing World Cup. Ronaldo scored twice to give Madrid the European Super Cup in a 2-0 victory over Sevilla earlier this month. He then came up empty in the two legs against Atlético played last week.

Ancelotti deployed a midfield of three playmakers in new signings Kroos and James Rodriguez along with Luka Modric.

Assistant coach German Burgos was in charge of Atletico with Simeone serving a one-game suspension that had carried over from last season.

Burgos will have to remain Atlético’s in-game coach in the league for the next month after Simeone was handed an eight-game suspension earlier yesterday for his outburst in the Spanish Super Cup. He will serve four games of the ban in the league, with the other four applying to the Super Cup.

Simeone said he had no comment to make on the suspension other than to show his “respect for the people who make the decisions.”

Simeone was ejected in the 25th minute of the match at Vicente Calderón Stadium for dissent after he vociferously called for Juanfran Torres to be allowed back on the pitch after being treated on the sidelines. The defender had received treatment for a cut on his lip that had bloodied his shirt and was waiting to go back out.

Simeone was suspended for four games for patting the back of the assistant referee’s head, two games for protesting, one game for applauding his sending-off, and one game for remaining in the stands instead of going to the changing-room after his expulsion. The federation statement cited referee Fernández Borbalán’s match report.

Simeone was also fined 4,805 euros, while Atlético was fined 2,800 euros.

Herald staff with AP

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