Magnificent seven for Barcelona in La Liga opener, Real Madrid leave it late
Madrid: Barcelona produced a stunning display to hammer Levante 7-0 at the Camp Nou on Sunday in Gerardo Martino's first competitive match in charge, while Real Madrid left it late to give Carlo Ancelotti a winning start as they beat Real Betis 2-1.
Spanish champions Barca showed no signs of early season rust as they ripped Levante apart with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi (2), Dani Alves, Pedro and Xavi giving them an incredible 6-0 lead at half-time.
There was even more for the home fans to cheer after the break as Neymar made his competitive debut as a substitute and even after Martino had shown the visitors some mercy by withdrawing Messi with 20 minutes remaining, more woeful defending allowed Pedro to round off the scoring with his second of the game.
"I was anxious for the league to start to see where the team were and I have been left very calm," said Martino.
"We put a lot of emphasis on pressing and we managed to sustain it for the majority of the match."
It took Barca barely two minutes to register their first goal of the campaign as Sanchez finished off a fine team move before Messi opened his account for the season with a side-footed finish from close range.
Alves tapped home the third on 23 minutes before further strikes from Pedro, Messi from the penalty spot and Xavi made it six before half-time.
The Catalans weren't quite as clinical after the break, but the moment many inside the crowd had been waiting for arrived on 62 minutes as Neymar made his competitive bow in a Barca shirt in place of the impressive Sanchez.
The Brazilian's only moment of note was when he picked up an unnecessary yellow card, but Barca did manage one more goal before the end as Pedro side-footed home his second of the night.
It was a far more complicated evening for Real however as they needed a headed winner from debutant Isco four minutes from time to take all three points against a spirited Betis.
"I am very happy, above all for the victory," Isco told Canal Plus afterwards.
"It is the first goal that I have scored with my head.
"The truth is that Betis surprised us a bit but it is the first game of the league, we have to improve a lot but we have just started."
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