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Terror attack victims honoured as Barca, Real win

Terror attack victims honoured as Barca, Real win

BARCELONA: All football matches in Spain held a minute’s silence to honour victims as La Liga began a new season under the shadow of recent attacks in Barcelona and a nearby coastal town.

Sunday’s game in Barcelona became a focal point for a city insisting it won’t be afraid.

Barcelona beat Real Betis 2-0 in emotional circumstances at the Camp Nou in their first home match since a pair of terrorist attacks killed 14 people and wounded around 120 in the Catalan capital’s bustling Las Ramblas boulevard and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils, Barca players wore black armbands and shirts with ‘Barcelona’ replacing individual names on the back.

The hosts rose to the challenge of raising the city’s spirits as an Alin Tosca own goal and Sergi Roberto’s strike ensured a comfortable victory Rivals Real Madrid began their pursuit of back-to-back league titles for the first time since 2008 with a 3-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna with goals from Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Toni Kroos, although captain Sergio Ramos was sent off in the dying seconds, earning a 23rd career red card.

Betis defender Tosca diverted a cross from the lively Gerard Deulofeu into his own net to put Barca ahead in the 36th minute, while the former Everton forward, who returned to his boyhood club this summer, also laid on the pass for the second goal which was smashed in by Sergi Roberto in the 39th.

Lionel Messi was the fulcrum of most of Barca’s creativity and more responsibility was placed on his shoulders due to the absence of Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta. But the Argentine was denied a goal, hitting the woodwork three times.

In Coruna, Bale made the most of the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring one goal and setting up another to make sure Real got their title defence off to a winning start.

After withstanding Deportivo’s early surge, Bale provided the opening goal in the 20th when he tapped in a rebound.

Real showed their class with their second goal seven minutes later with Marcelo sliding the ball to the far post where Casemiro was waiting to tuck into the unguarded net, completing a move involving 44 passes and Bale assisted Kroos to round off the victory in the 63rd.

Deportivo were left to rue two big opportunities missed by Florin Andone in the first 10 minutes, whilst the Romanian international also saw a late penalty saved by Keylor Navas.

Spain centre back Ramos, who has never been sent off in 143 games for his country, earned a second yellow card in injury time, joining Pablo Alfaro and Xavi Aguado on a La Liga record of 18 red cards.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2017

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