The long race for league honours began in England and Spain this weekend, but while there was a hint of the familiar to Manchester City FC's opening win, Liga champions Real Madrid CF were held to a draw. Their great rivals FC Barcelona sealed an emphatic victory, on the other hand, while Paris Saint-Germain FC drew again in France and KR Reykjavík retained the Icelandic Cup.
Champions Manchester City began where they left off last season, earning a thrilling 3-2 comeback win to make a positive start to their new campaign. Having defeated Queens Park Rangers FC in the last few seconds of 2011/12, Roberto Mancini's men roused themselves to beat promoted Southampton FC this time around. "We did it, but next time it would be better if we win 1-0 or 2-0," commented City's match winner, Samir Nasri. Rivals Chelsea FC also triumphed, downing Wigan Athletic FC 2-0, while Fulham FC and Swansea City AFC posted 5-0 wins and Liverpool FC lost 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion FC.
Barcelona showed no signs of losing steam under new coach Tito Vilanova as they cruised to a 5-1 success against Real Sociedad de Fútbol, David Villa marking his long-awaited return from injury with the fifth goal. "It was a good win but the best news of all is the return of 'El Guaje' [Villa]," explained Xavi Hernández. "We have missed him." Meanwhile, José Mourinho said that he "expected more from his team" after Real Madrid made a less convincing start to the season, surrendering their lead to draw 1-1 with Valencia CF. On Saturday, Málaga CF forward Fabrice Olinga became the youngest scorer in Liga history, aged 16 years and 98 days.
"We deserved to win the game but some of our bad habits from last season came back," said Rémi Garde after his Olympique Lyonnais side came from behind to seal a convincing 4-1 win against ES Troyes Aube Champagne, thanks in part to a pair of goals from Bafétimbi Gomis. Second-placed Olympique de Marseille also maintained their 100% record, as did SC Bastia and FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Meanwhile, PSG's lacklustre start continued as they were held to 0-0 draw by AC Ajaccio, with coach Carlo Ancelotti commenting: "We have to work harder."
There was frustration for FC Porto and SL Benfica as both kicked off the Portuguese season with stalemates, champions Porto drawing 0-0 at Gil Vicente FC and their rivals from Lisbon held 2-2 by SC Braga. That theme was repeated in Turkey too, where Beşiktaş JK and Fenerbahçe SK both drew – with holders Galatasaray AŞ in action on Monday – but the big guns certainly fared better in the Netherlands. While AFC Ajax prevailed 6-1 at NEC Nijmegen, PSV Eindhoven saw off Roda JC 5-0 and AZ Alkmaar beat Heracles Almelo 3-1.
Ukrainian leaders FC Shakhtar Donetsk also enjoyed a comfortable success, triumphing 5-1 at FC Chornomorets Odesa to move three points clear of FC Dynamo Kyiv – defeated 1-0 by FC Vorskla Poltava in their first reverse this term. In neighbouring Russia, FC Zenit St Petersburg had to settle for a 1-1 draw at FC Anzhi Makhachkala that allowed FC Spartak Moskva to move within a point at the summit, while KR came from behind to beat Stjarnan 2-1 and hold onto the Icelandic Cup in Reykjavik.
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