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La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Europa League preview: Wolves return to Europe

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images for Premier League
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Surely when PSV Eindhoven knocked Wolverhampton Wanderers out of the 1980-81 UEFA Cup, the West Midlands club didn’t think a nearly 40-year wait to return was in the cards, but that angst has given way to joy.

Wolves are back in Europe, and begin a Europa League campaign on Thursday.

[ UCL WRAPS: Tuesday | Wednesday ]

“Tomorrow is a big game for the club, for the years without European football,” said manager Nuno Espirito Santo. “It’s up to us to make something special so people are proud of us once again. It’s fantastic to be back at Molineux, what Molineux gives us is huge and a real adrenaline punch that we must take on to the pitch.”

The opponents at the Molineux are Northern Irish side Crusaders, but 1950s, 60s, and 70s saw some of the biggest names in world football arrive to Wolves, with Schalke, Juventus, Barcelona, and Porto on the docket.

An extended UEFA Cup run in 1971-72 saw Wolves come up one-goal short of silverware against Spurs at White Hart Lane.

So this isn’t new, even if it’s new.

“I have visited the museum a couple of times, so know the history of the club, and it proves how big Wolves are,” Espirito Santo said.

The first and second legs should give Wolves a leg-up for one of the most interesting matches of the Premier League’s first week: Wolves at Leicester City.

Europa League fixtures and results
Avan Academy 2-0 Lincoln Red Imps — Tuesday
HB 2-2 Linfield — Tuesday
Shkendija 1-2 Dudelange — Tuesday
Santa Coloma 0-0 Astana — Tuesday
Tre Penne 0-5 FK Suduva — Tuesday
Slovan Bratislava 2-1 Feronikeli — Wednesday
Pyunik v. Jablonec — 9:30 am. ET Thursday
FK Ventspils v. Gzira United — 10:45 a.m. ET Thursday
Gabala v. Dinamo Tbilisi — 11 a.m. ET Thursday
Partizani v. Sheriff — 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday
AEK Larnaca v. Levski Sofia — 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday
Utrecht v. HSK Zrinjski Mostar — 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Chikhura Sachkhere v. Aberdeen — 12:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Budapest Honved v. Uniersitatea Craiova — 12:55 p.m. ET Thursday
Lechia Gdansk v. Brondby — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Haugesund v. SK Sturm Graz — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Arsenal Tula v. Neftchi — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Mlada Boleslav v. Ordabasy — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Flora v. Eintracht Frankfurt — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Alashkert v. FCSB — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Shakhtyor v. Esbjerg — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Yeni Malatyaspor v. Olimpija NK — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Molde v. Cukaricki — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
CSKA Sofia v. Osijek — 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Connah’s Quay Nomads v. Partizan — 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Hapoel Be’er Sheva v. Kairat — 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Lokomotiv Plovdiv v. Spartak Trnava — 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Piast Gliwice v. Riga — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Norrkoping v. Liepaja — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vidi v. Vaduz — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Luzern v. KI — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Aris v. AEL — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Dunajska Streda v. Atromitos — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Gent v. Viitorul — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Jeunesse Esch v. Vitoria — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
AZ Alkmaar v. BK Hacken — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Domzale v. Malmo — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Strasbourg v. Maccabi Haifa — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Rangers v. Progres — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Wolves v. Crusaders — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Buducnost v. Zorya — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Shamrock Rovers v. Apollon Limassol — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Valur v. Ludogorets Razgrad — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Torino v. Debrecen — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Espanyol v. Stjarnan — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Legia Warsaw v. KuPS — 3 p.m. ET Thursday

Messi wins derby for Barca, scores 40 goals for 10th-straight season

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How did Barcelona’s Catalan Derby with Espanyol go on Saturday? Let’s just say we’ve got two words which could sum up a lot of days for the Camp Nou set, and they are posted below.

Lionel Messi.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the PL? ]

The world’s greatest player scored a pair of goals in the second half as Barcelona won 2-0 to move to 21W-6D-2L this season.

The goals were his 30th and 31st in La Liga play this campaign, and 40th and 41st across all competitions to give him an otherworldly stat: Messi has scored 40 goals in each of the last 10 seasons.

He’s 31 years old. Do the math.

Messi’s first goal was especially wonderful, a spinning free kick from atop the 18 that was deflected into the net before a goalkeeper could get there.

But would he have? Probably not.

Many are calling it a “Panenka free kick.” We’re just opting for, again, wonderful:

Eibar defeats Espanyol 3-0 to end winless streak in La Liga

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed Espanyol 3-0 to end a seven-match winless streak and move further away from the relegation zone in the Spanish league on Monday.

Sergi Enrich scored in the first half, and Pablo De Blasis and Charles added a goal each in the second to give the hosts their first win since November when they defeated Real Madrid 3-0 at home.

The victory moved Eibar from 16th to 11th in the league, five points clear from the relegation zone after 20 matches.

Espanyol, which has won only one of its last nine league matches, dropped to 13th ahead of its home game against third-place Real Madrid on Sunday.

Eibar visits Leganes on Saturday.

Barcelona has a five-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Espanyol jumps to second with win over Athletic

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The upper echelon of the La Liga table will read Espanyol’s name for at least a week after Rubi’s group topped Athletic Bilbao 1-0 behind the fourth goal for Borja Iglesias in his last three matches.

There were plenty of big moments in the match, but only one of them was capitalized upon, as Iglesias was unmarked at the far post and headed a Dídac Vilá delivery across the face of goal past Iago Herrerin for the game’s lone goal.

Diego Lopez was forced into a diving save just before halftime as Raul Garcia ripped one from outside the box. That was Athletic’s best chance missed, while Aritz Aduriz also had a massive chance to level in the 62nd minute as he received a cutback from Oscar de Marcos near the middle of the penalty area but rolled his shot weakly straight to Lopez. Inaki Williams also hit the post just before halftime for the visitors.

The win catapulted Espanyol back above Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, and Alaves – who all drew this weekend – into second place on 21 points, three behind league leaders Barcelona. On the other side of things, Athletic sits just one point above the relegation zone in 17th after the loss.

The victory for Espanyol sets up an enticing matchup next weekend as they travel to third-placed Sevilla.