Stuttering Real suffer another setback at Sevilla

Real Madrid's stuttering start to La Liga continued when they lost 1-0 at Sevilla to slip eight points behind leaders Barcelona who were 4-1 victors at Getafe earlier on Saturday.

With only one win and a draw from their first three games, champions Real were under pressure to react after Lionel Messi came off the bench to score twice and help Barca maintain their 100 percent record.

Sevilla's Piotr Trochowski netted at a corner in the second minute and Real laboured in their bid to equalise in a bruising and bad-tempered battle at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Barca are top with 12 points from four games, two ahead of second-placed Malaga who were 3-1 winners at home to Levante. Sevilla rose to third on eight points and Real are 10th.

The scene was set in the opening minutes in Seville when Poland midfielder Trochowski arrived late and unmarked at a corner to hammer a volley into the roof of the net.

Almost immediately there was a melee at the other end of the pitch as tackles flew in thick and fast and tempers flared. It was almost a miracle that both sides finished with 11 men.

Real, who host Manchester City in one of the most attractive of the Champions League openers on Tuesday, struggled to test experienced keeper Andres Palop while Cristiano Ronaldo had a quiet game.

Substitute Luka Modric had a shot tipped on to the post in the second half and Sergio Ramos headed over a gaping goal but as the game stretched out either side could have scored in a breathless finale.

At Getafe, World Player of the Year Messi started as a substitute in a league game for the first time in a year as he was given a breather after midweek international duty.

The Argentine came on after an hour and netted from the penalty spot in the 74th minute before tapping in a second soon after from Martin Montoya's deflected low cross.

Barca had gone ahead in the 32nd minute when Cesc Fabregas, playing in Messi's 'false nine' role, surged into the area and the ball broke free for Adriano to score.

Defender Carles Puyol was substituted after twisting his left knee in a fall early in the second half and Messi entered on the hour mark in place of Thiago.

Spain striker David Villa came on at the end to seal the victory after Getafe, who beat Real 2-1 last month, had got one back in the 80th minute when Pablo Sarabia's shot was deflected in by Barca's Javier Mascherano.

SAVIOLA INSPIRATION

Earlier, Argentine striker Javier Saviola inspired Malaga to their home win over Levante while Valencia secured their first La Liga victory this season with a 2-1 triumph over promoted Celta Vigo.

Former Barcelona and Real player Saviola joined Malaga on transfer deadline day two weeks ago and on his first start for the side burst on to Isco's pass to score in the 27th minute.

Saviola, known as "El Conejo" (the rabbit), laid on the second goal for Joaquin in the 59th minute after Levante had grabbed an equaliser against the run of play when Michel ran the length of the pitch to score just after half-time.

Home defender Sergio Sanchez was sent off near the end but Francisco Portillo made sure of the points for Malaga with a volley in time added on.

Malaga begin their first Champions League venture when Zenit St Petersburg visit on Tuesday while Levante's Europa League debut will be at home to Helsingborg two days later.

Valencia's new coach Mauricio Pellegrino can breathe a little easier after new recruit Aly Cissokho headed the winner from a free-kick at the Mestalla to claim their first three-point haul of the campaign.

Sofiane Feghouli had given the hosts a third-minute lead as he capitalised on some sloppy defending but Celta quickly pegged Valencia back.

They deservedly levelled when Gustavo Cabral bundled a volley past keeper Diego Alves after 15 minutes.

Valencia improved in the second half after France defender Cissokho struck in the 50th minute but they will need to play much better if they are to take something from their Champions League opener at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.


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