2018-2019 Spanish Primera División
  • Dani Carvajal (20')
  • Gareth Bale (51')

Gareth Bale shines as Real Madrid open La Liga with win

AP Photo/Andrea Comas

Real Madrid got off to a winning start in La Liga on Sunday by comfortably beating neighbours Getafe 2-0 at home with an inspiring performance from Gareth Bale in the European champions' first league game in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era.

Bale crashed a diving header against the crossbar early on, then helped to set up Dani Carvajal's looping header which broke the deadlock in the 20th minute, wrapping up the points with a powerful first-time finish early in the second half.

The Wales forward was given a standing ovation by the home supporters in his first competitive game back at the Santiago Bernabeu since scoring twice in the 3-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final.

The result lifts the pressure on new coach Julen Lopetegui after Wednesday's painful 4-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup and sees Real join champions Barcelona on three points after one game, although Sevilla lead the standings on goal difference after their 4-1 win at Rayo Vallecano.

Lopetegui again chose Costa Rica international Keylor Navas in goal ahead of new signing Thibaut Courtois and fielded Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos over Luka Modric, who was also left out of the starting lineup in the Super Cup game but came on in the second half.

Real monopolised the ball with a staggering 78 percent of possession and barely conceded a chance to Getafe, who picked up seven yellow cards as they desperately tried to halt Real's frequent attacks.

Real's first clear chance came when Marcelo picked out Bale with a searching cross and the Wales forward dived to meet it but could only head against the bar, missing the chance to score his side's opening goal of the season for a fourth year in a row.

That honour fell to Spain defender Carvajal, who stayed with his feet on the ground to head the loose ball into the top corner after Getafe goalkeeper David Soria had flapped at Bale's cross.

Spanish winger Marco Asensio joined Bale in hitting the woodwork and was also the catalyst for Real's second goal, chasing down Getafe defender Djene Dakonam to win back the ball and cross for Bale to hammer it in off the post.

"It was very important to make a strong start with good sensations and we played very well; we have to go little by little but this is the right way to start the league season," Asensio told reporters.

"Cristiano has left but we have a good team. We are working hard, you saw that reflected on the pitch today and this is the way to continue. We have to move on after the Super Cup defeat and turn a page. Today was the start of a new competition which we are very excited about. We put in a great performance."

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Barcelona 14 +20 31
2 Real Madrid 14 +19 31
3 Sevilla FC 15 +5 30
4 Real Sociedad 15 +8 26
5 Athletic Bilbao 15 +8 26
6 Atletico Madrid 15 +6 25
7 Getafe 15 +7 24
8 Valencia 15 +1 23
9 Osasuna 15 +4 22
10 Granada 15 0 21
11 Levante 15 -3 20
12 Real Betis 15 -6 19
13 Villarreal 15 +4 18
14 Alavés 15 -3 18
15 Real Valladolid 15 -4 18
16 Eibar 15 -12 15
17 Mallorca 15 -9 14
18 Celta Vigo 15 -10 13
19 Espanyol 15 -18 9
20 Leganes 15 -17 6