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Barcelona and Madrid win in La Liga

DEFENDING champion Barcelona won 2-0 at Malaga while Real Madrid beat promoted Tenerife 3-0 in maintaining their perfect starts to the Spanish league yesterday.

With both powerhouses having taken 15 points and scored 16 goals in their five matches, Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona into first place by virtue of having conceded a goal less.

At Malaga's La Rosaleda Stadium, Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the first signing in Barcelona's history to score in each of his first five league games when he appeared as a substitute and netted in the 39th minute. Another replacement, Gerard Pique, scored 20 minutes later.

For Madrid, Karim Benzema hit the back of the net twice in the second half, and substitute Kaka added another at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The match was the first in which Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score this season. The Portugal forward, who was substituted in the 80th minute, tallied five goals in his first four league games.

Also, Renato, Alvaro Negredo, Frederic Kanoute and Jesus Navas all scored as Sevilla romped to a 4-0 victory at Athletic Bilbao, the team's fifth straight win in all competitions.

In a late match, winless Atletico Madrid drew 2-2 at Valencia courtesy of Maxi Rodriguez's injury-time equalizer.

Sergio Aguero gave Atletico an early lead with Pablo Hernandez and David Villa replying for the home team.

Today, it's: Mallorca vs. Valladolid; Espanyol vs. Xerez; Osasuna vs. Sporting Gijon; Almeria vs. Racing Santander; Zaragoza vs. Getafe; and Deportivo La Coruna vs. Villarreal.

A well-organized Malaga frustrated Barcelona in the early stages, with Lionel Messi appearing to exchange kicks with Malaga central defender Weligton in the 21st minute. Both received a lecture from referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro.

Ibrahimovic, who replaced the injured Thierry Henry in the 29th, scored by taking advantage of Messi's deft lob over the Malaga defense and shooting past goalkeeper Gustavo Munua.

Pique, who replaced defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy only a minute earlier, then ran in to poke home Xavi Hernandez's inswinging free kick.

Pique and Weligton each received yellow cards in the 69th for a clash after the goalscorer appeared to have been felled by a swipe from the Malaga player.

Malaga substitute Albert Luque, who had only been on the field for eight minutes, was ejected for a late tackle on Barcelona right back Daniel Alves in the 85th.

Madrid defender Pepe was included in the starting lineup after completing a 10-game suspension for his attack on two Getafe players last season. Midfielder Xabi Alonso also returned from injury to face his brother, Tenerife midfielder Mikel Alonso.

Tenerife, which has never won in 13 league visits to Madrid, neutralized the home team in the first half despite the 36th-minute loss of its captain Marc Beltran following a foul by defender Royston Drenthe.

Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini sent on Kaka and Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez for the second half and the hosts broke the deadlock two minutes later when Benzema headed home Alonso's cross at the far post.

The France striker doubled his tally in the 57th after Tenerife defender Manolo Martinez was unable to deal with a long ball.

The visitors failed to capitalize on several chances, before Kaka gave Tenerife goalkeeper Sergio Aragones no chance with a shot from the edge of the area in the 79th.

Sevilla, whose win kept it in third place with 12 points, opened the scoring in the fifth minute when midfielder Renato's free kick caught Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz unprepared.

Bilbao, whose defeat was its second straight after having won its opening three games, conceded a second goal 15 minutes later when Negredo fired home from Diego Capel's pass.

Iraizoz continued an unhappy match by presenting Kanoute with the chance to score the visitors' third goal just before the interval.

The Basque team's problems worsened in the 54th when defender Fernando Amorebieta received his second yellow card and Navas sealed the emphatic win after taking the ball around Iraizoz 20 minutes later.

Atletico opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Aguero fired home from Diego Forlan's pass following impressive approach work by the visitors.

Valencia equalized in the 25th, Hernandez controlling Ever Banega's pass and deftly lifting the ball over defender Antonio Lopez before stabbing an angled shot home.

Two minutes later, Villa fired past goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez for his league-leading sixth goal of the season only for substitute Rodriguez to score and relieve the pressure on Atletico's beleaguered coach Abel Resino.

Valencia is fifth with eight points, while Atletico is 18th with three points.


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