Celta Vigo

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La Liga roundup: 10-man Real Madrid hold off Celta in season opener

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Spain’s top flight is back, and here’s a roundup of all of Saturday’s action.

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Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid

If Real Madrid and Barcelona are, again, going to battle toe-to-toe for La Liga, consider the former team to have a head start.

Hours after Barca got the Aritz Aduriz treatment, Real Madrid – playing with 10 men for more than 40 minutes – took care of business, calmly beating Celta Vigo behind goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vasquez. Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric was sent off for a straight red in the 54th minute, while Gareth Bale, who stole headlines this summer after being rumored to leave time and time again, started and played 75 minutes.

Despite not having control of possession, the quality from Zinedine Zidane’s men was too much for Ruben Blanco. For instance, just look at Kroos’ strike from distance:

Celta, on the other hand, had a goal disallowed by VAR right before halftime, but still managed to spoil Thibaut Courtois‘ clean  in the dying minutes when Iker Losada, 18, scored two minutes after taking the field.

Valencia 1-1 Real Sociedad

Four minutes into stoppage time, Kevin Gameiro had the picture-perfect opportunity to record a brace and seal three points for Valencia in their first showing of the new campaign.

In front of an anxious Mestalla, he missed.

And just six minutes later, in the final breathe of the match, Mikel Oyarzabal did what Gameiro failed to do: convert from the spot. The rumored Manchester City target was influential all match and, in the end, rewarded with a goal.

A tough pill to swallow, Valencia will now look to earn their first win against Celta Vigo, while Sociedad next stop in their three-game road trip to start the season is Mallorca.

Villareal 4-4 Granada 

It wasn’t the matchup the majority had circled on their calendars, but Villareal and Granda’s 4-4 draw proved to be the most entertaining game on Saturday. A pair of penalties and an own goal were a few of the goals that made up the eight-goal frenzy.

Santi Carzorla – looking healthier than ever before – opened things up from the spot 35 minutes in. In the 75th minute, another familiar face, Roberto Soldado, put Granada a goal away from the home side. Shortly after, in the 81st minute, Antonio Puertas bagged Granada’s fourth and the night’s final goal.

An eight-goal match in such fashion will be hard to top on Sunday, that’s for sure.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 0-1 Osasuna

RCD Mallorca 2-0 Eibar

Valencia signs Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez

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West Ham has lost out to Valencia for the signature of Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez, with the La Liga side confirming the deal on Sunday.

Valencia made the deal official on social media, bringing home the frontman on a complicated deal that included a $16 million fee plus a swap deal for 23-year-old striker Santi Mina plus a two-year loan for new Valencia signing Jorge Saenz who recently arrived from Tenerife.

According to the club, Gomez signed a five-year contract with Valencia and has a massive $158 million release clause. The 22-year-old Uruguay international has been massively prolific for Celta Vigo since arriving from Uruguayan side Defensor Sporting two years ago, scoring 31 goals in 71 La Liga matches over that span.

West Ham was heavily linked to Gomez, but according to reports, the player much preferred his new Spanish destination. In addition, English tabloids report West Ham was not willing to pay Gomez’s $56 million release clause up front, while Celta Vigo put together a more enticing offer. The Hammers will have to look elsewhere for a Marko Arnautovic replacement.

Gomez has 12 international caps and two goals to his name, and was in the squad for the entirety of this summer’s Copa America, although he was left on the bench for every match as Uruguay reached the semifinals.

Going in the other direction, Celta Vigo acquires Mina, who left the club four years ago for Valencia as a teenager and saw significant time on the field but never truly established himself as a reliable goalscorer. In 117 top-flight appearances for Valencia, Mina scored 29 goals and assisted 11 more. He now returns to his boyhood club and will make the move alongside 22-year-old defender Saenz who has yet to make his La Liga debut.

West Ham amongst two to have Gomez bids accepted

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West Ham United’s commitment to taking the next step is pretty clear, and the Irons may have finally found their big, young European striker.

Maxi Gomez, 22, has scored 32 times with 10 assists in two seasons at Celta Vigo, and has his choices down to Valencia and West Ham.

Both clubs have seen $36.5 million accepted by Celta Vigo, and now it’s down to the player to choose between testing the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Should West Ham add Gomez, it will be the second $30 million-plus buy of the summer and add to last summer’s record-breaking purchase of Felipe Anderson. Pablo Fornals joined the Irons earlier this week.

He scored against both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid last season, and both Barca and Real Madrid the previous season. Gomez made the Uruguayan squad for the 2018 World Cup, making two appearances off the bench, and has scored twice in 12 caps.

West Ham has a decent striker in Marko Arnautovic, but the 30-year-old has been mercurial at best in his commitment to the club. Andy Carroll is leaving the club this summer.

The club has also placed a $15 million bid for another La Liga player, 24-year-old midfielder Joan Jordan of Eibar.

A more box-to-box player with attacking and wing experience, Jordan scored four times with four assists last season. He was linked with Arsenal during the season.

La Liga: Barcelona draws nearer to title, Celta Vigo runs from relegation

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Barcelona remained nine points clear at the top of the La Liga table with five matches remaining thanks to a 2-1 home win over Real Sociedad.

Clement Lenglet beat his mark Mikel Merino in the air, scoring a header off a corner just before halftime to put Barcelona up, and after Real Sociedad leveled things up just after the hour mark, Jordi Alba was on hand to restore the lead with a right-footed blast low past Geronimo Rulli who reacted late on the shot through traffic.

Down the other end of the table, Celta Vigo earned a critical win in the relegation battle, knocking off Girona 2-1 on a 69th minute winner by former Southampton attacker Sofiane Boufal. The Moroccan international worked a tiny bit of space before delivering a fabulous curler that tucked in the far corner. That proved the difference after Iago Aspas and Portu had cancelled each other out on either side of the break. The win allowed Celta to rise up to 14th, three points above the drop with a crowded group below them.

Atletico Madrid extended its lead in second place with a 1-0 win over Eibar, needing an 85th minute breakaway goal by Thomas Lemar to seal the deal. That pushed them seven points ahead of Real Madrid, with Los Blancos still set to play on Sunday. It also saw Atletico keep pace with Barcelona, although it would take a massive collapse down the stretch by the leaders for Atletico to have a shot at the title.

Finally, Rayo Vallecano drew nearer to relegation with a 0-0 draw against Huesca at home, leaving them four points back of 18th placed Real Valladolid and five shy of safety. Rayo could only muster three shots on target of the 16 efforts they ripped off, failing to create many truly big chances.

Mexican national team defender off to Celta Vigo

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Mexican national team defender Nestor Araujo is the latest member of El Tri to join a La Liga outfit.

Araujo, 26, is off to Celta Vigo on a five-year deal after a half-decade at Santos Laguna in Liga MX.

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Left off the Juan Carlos Osorio’s World Cup roster, Araujo joins Miguel Layun (Sevilla), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), and Oswaldo Alanis (Getafe) in Spain.

Araujo has 27 caps for Mexico with three goals, but oddly enough none of those caps have come against the United States.