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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

Espanyol concedes late, loses chance to take lead in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Espanyol conceded in injury time to draw Valladolid 1-1 and miss a chance to take the outright lead in the Spanish league on Friday.

Espanyol was in front until Italian forward Daniele Verde converted a free kick a minute into injury time to even the match and keep the visitors from moving past Catalan rival Barcelona at the top of the standings.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day ]

Espanyol now has the same 18 points as Barcelona but trails on goal difference. Barcelona hosts Real Madrid in the league “clasico” on Sunday at Camp Nou Stadium.

Forward Borja Iglesias put Espanyol ahead with a powerful right-footed shot from outside the area in the first half. Verde’s late free kick appeared to deflect on the wall, taking goalkeeper Diego Lopez out of play.

It was the first league goal for Verde, who is playing on loan from Roma.

Promoted Valladolid, owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo, had won four straight and could have joined Barcelona at the top had it won the home match. It has 16 points and is in sixth place. The team’s next league game is at Real Madrid.

Espanyol hasn’t lost since a 1-0 defeat against Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the fifth round.

Valladolid is playing in the first division for the first time since 2013-14. Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner and a former Madrid and Barcelona striker, became a majority stakeholder in the club this season.

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Ronaldo to become majority shareholder in Valladolid, bring Vinicius?

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Real Valladolid may make an amazing acquisition while becoming an addition of its own.

From 1980-2004, Valladolid spent just one season in Spain’s second tier. Since then, they’ve spent nine there.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Sergio Gonzalez started to change things late last season, winning most of his matches following an April appointment as manager and earning promotion to the top flight.

Now the club is back in La Liga, and may have a new majority owner: the original Ronaldo.

The legendary Brazilian striker will reportedly invest $34 million in the club, and become Valladolid’s majority shareholder “within the next 24 hours.”

And his relationship with former club Real Madrid could bear immediate dividends in the form of a loan for Los Blancos superstar-in-waiting Vinicius Junior.

The 18-year-old from Flamengo has impressed many during his short time at the Bernabeu — fellow Brazilian Marcelo called him “the present and future of the team” — but has yet to play for the first team, making a 72-minute debut for Real Madrid Castilla.

Valladolid earns promotion to Spain’s Liga

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MADRID (AP) Valladolid earned promotion to Spain’s topflight after drawing with Numancia 1-1 on Saturday and winning their playoff 4-1 on aggregate.

Numancia got its only goal of the two-match tie in the 87th minute when Manuel del Moral scored.

Jaime Mata leveled the second leg match for host Valladolid in stoppage time.

Valladolid last played in La Liga in the 2013-14 season.

Rayo Vallecano and Huesca already earned promotion directly by finishing the second division in first and second place.

Valladolid earned promotion from the two-round playoff between the teams that finished the second division in third through sixth place.

Sporting KC acquires Chilean striker Diego Rubio on loan

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Sporting Kansas City acquired Chilean striker Diego Rubio on loan from Spanish club Real Valladolid on Tuesday, giving the MLS club additional depth as it begins a busy early portion of its schedule.

The 22-year-old Rubio has also played for powerhouse Sporting Clube de Portugal’s reserve team, where he scored 22 goals in 52 games. He also made 20 senior team appearances for the club.

[ MORE: Five thoughts after MLS’ flashy Opening Day ]

Rubio has also been loaned to Romanian club Pandurii Targu Jiu and Noregian club Sandnes Ulf.

He will occupy an international roster spot for Sporting KC, which beat Seattle in its season opener on Sunday. The club plays its home opener Saturday against Vancouver.