Real Madrid wins Spanish league opener without Ronaldo
MADRID (AP) — Gareth Bale is doing his part to help Real Madrid get over Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
Bale scored in Madrid’s Spanish league opener and set up the other goal in a 2-0 win over Getafe in Sunday’s Madrid derby.
Dani Carvajal also scored for Madrid, which for the first time in nearly a decade started its league campaign without Ronaldo, the club’s greatest goal-scorer.
Bale, who hadn’t played much while Ronaldo was still on the team before he moved to Juventus in the offseason, scored in the 51st minute with a shot from inside the area after a well-placed cross by Marco Asensio.
“I feel good,” said Bale, who has scored in Madrid’s league opener in three straight years. “We are very upbeat with our chances this season.”
Bale had already struck the crossbar with a 16th-minute header, and a few minutes later he provided the cross that led to Carvajal’s goal after Getafe goalkeeper David Soria failed to fully clear the ball.
Bale didn’t have many chances as a starter under coach Zinedine Zidane, but is likely to gain a bigger role as new manager Julen Lopetegui deals with Ronaldo’s absence and the lack of major signings by the club.
Bale received a loud ovation by the crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium when he was substituted by Lucas Vazquez in the 77th minute.
Fewer than 50,000 fans made it to the Bernabeu for the 10:15 p.m. start (local time), the team’s worst attendance since before Ronaldo arrived in 2009, according to Spanish media.
Madrid started its season with a loss to city rival Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final. It was only third in the league last season, behind Atletico and champion Barcelona.
Barcelona opened with a 3-0 win over Alaves at Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday, with a pair of goals by Lionel Messi.
Atletico Madrid visits Valencia on Monday.
Sevilla and Rayo Vallecano saw calls go both ways in the video assistant referee (VAR) debut in the Spanish league.
Spain was late to adopt the new technology, but it was used twice in Sevilla’s 4-1 win at Rayo. It awarded Sevilla a 79th-minute goal by Andre Silva that had been initially disallowed because of offside, and about five minutes later it gave Rayo a penalty kick after a foul had been originally called outside the area.
The newly signed Silva ended with a hat trick on his league debut.
Adrian Embarba converted the penalty for the hosts, which hadn’t played in the top flight since the 2015-2016 season.
HUESCA STARTS IN STYLE
Huesca made its Spanish league debut in style, winning 2-1 at Eibar.
The small club from northeastern Spain needed only five minutes to score its first-ever goal in the top flight, coming from Alex Gallar after a neat run through the Eibar defense.
The midfielder also netted the second, a free-kick cross that missed everyone inside the area and went directly into the goal.
Gonzalo Escalante pulled the hosts closer in the 69th.
Huesca had played a total of only eight seasons in the second division before earning its promotion with a second-place finish last season.
The other promoted club this season was Valladolid, which opened with a 0-0 draw at Girona on Friday.
More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga