Gareth Bale leaves the pitch after receiving a red card during the match between Villarreal and Real Madrid. (AP Photo)
Shared News| Published: September 2, 2019 10:26:14 am
Joao Felix scored his first Spanish league goal for Atletico Madrid to spark a 3-2 comeback win over Eibar as his team kept its perfect record on Sunday, while Gareth Bale struck twice to salvage a 2-2 draw for Real Madrid at Villarreal before being sent off. Atletico’s 19-year-old Portugal forward swept in a pass from strike partner Diego Costa in the 27th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium after the hosts had trailed by two goals.
Atletico broke its club record to sign Felix from Benfica after triggering the 126 million euro (around $140 million) buyout clause in his contract this summer. It made most of that money back from the exit of Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona. Felix scored several impressive goals in an excellent preseason. Felix was very active in the first half which saw Atletico reeling from Eibar’s strong start. He twice drew contact in the area that the referee said wasn’t enough to consider a penalty, before fading as the match wore on.
Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Thomas Partey then came off the bench to score goals in the second half to complete the comeback.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico is the only team to take a maximum nine points in the first three rounds. Defending champion Barcelona has four points in eighth place while it waits for Lionel Messi to recover from injury and debut this season.
Madrid has five points in fifth place after Bale twice erased Villarreal’s lead to secure a 2-2 draw on the road. But the Wales winger then received back-to-back yellow cards in injury time for dangerous studs-first challenges and will miss the next match after the international break against Levante.
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said he wasn’t worried about his team’s mediocre start to the season with just one win in three matches. “I think we did what we had to do, but we just didn’t convert our chances,” Zidane said. “But our way forward is this one. We can’t complain about anything, except the first 15 minutes when we didn’t start well.”
Eibar went ahead on early goals by striker Charles and a deflected long strike by defender Artiz Arbilla. Vitolo scored to help win points for Atletico for a second straight week as a substitute. Partey finally put Atletico ahead in the 90th when he scrambled the ball past two defenders before knocking it through the legs of goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.
Simeone lauded the effort of his squad, which was overhauled this summer. “We have to remake this team. We want to win, win and win even more,” Simeone said. “It is not easy when eight players leave and eight new players arrive for the team to still compete. We have to remain calm.”
Gerard Moreno put Villarreal in front when he stole the ball from Sergio Ramos and set up Toko Ekambi to test goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian blocked his strike, only for Moreno to rush in and finish off the rebound for his third goal in as many matches.
Madrid pressed for an equalizer. Karim Benzema hit the post moments before Gareth Bale scored his first league goal of the season just before halftime at the end of a long team buildup that included a key pass by Marko Jovic.
Madrid dominated the second half until Moi Gomez was in position to tap in a cross in the 74th following a shot by Moreno which was saved by Courtois. Bale got the final equalizer in the 86th after he took a pass from substitute Luka Modric, cut back inside and slotted a shot inside the near upright.
Dani Parejo converted two penalty kicks to give Valencia its first win of the season with a 2-0 win over promoted Mallorca. Promoted Granada won 3-0 at Espanyol for its first victory since returning to the top flight.
Before the matches there was a minute’s silence in tribute to 9-year-old Xana, the daughter of former Spain and Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. She died on Thursday from a type of bone cancer.