BARCELONA (AP) ― Lionel Messi scored two goals and set up another Sunday to help mark the debut of Neymar and Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino in a 7-0 thrashing of Levante, ensuring the Spanish champions start their title defense in style.
With signature signing Neymar watching from the bench, Messi almost single-handedly dismantled overmatched Levante.
After Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring, Messi claimed Barcelona’s second goal, stole possession to create the third, and passed for Pedro Rodriguez to score the fourth.
Messi scored his second goal from the penalty spot before Xavi Hernandez made it 6-0 against the demoralized visitors just before halftime.
|Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo heads upfield against Betis on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap News)|
Neymar, who has been recovering from anemia since his $76 million move from Santos in the offseason, went on in the second half in time to see Pedro strike again and polish off the lopsided victory.
The applause Neymar received when warming up grew to a standing ovation when he went on for Alexis in the 64th for his first official minutes in Barcelona’s burgundy and blue.
Those eager to see Neymar and Messi together were disappointed, however. The two were only on together for seven minutes before Martino sent Andres Iniesta on for Messi.
The 21-year-old Neymar was active on the left flank but couldn’t find his new teammates with crosses.
Jose Mourinho enjoyed a euphoric Chelsea homecoming on Sunday, and Tottenham put aside the turmoil surrounding Gareth Bale’s future by also making a victorious start to the Premier League season.
Chelsea ripped apart Hull inside 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge, with the goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard securing a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
While Lampard had earlier missed a penalty, Roberto Soldado had no such trouble from the spot for Tottenham to score on debut and clinch a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Tottenham eked out the win without the team’s most potent attacking threat, with Bale injured ― and being pursued by Real Madrid.
Sunday’s pair of results completed a miserable weekend for the league newcomers, with Cardiff also failing to score in a 2-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday.
Mourinho was welcomed onto the pitch by cheers from the Chelsea fans delighted to see the end of Rafa Benitez’s interim reign. They were denied an early goal to celebrate, with Frank Lampard’s spot kick saved after six minutes.
Borussia Dortmund substitute Jonas Hofmann scored one goal and earned a penalty in an unconvincing 2-1 win over promoted Eintracht Braunschweig in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Hofmann broke the deadlock with 15 remaining when he played a one-two with Mats Hummels and scored off the far post from a tight angle.
The 21-year-old midfielder went down under Ermin Bicakcic’s challenge to earn the penalty. Marco Reus converted the spot kick in the 86th minute.
Braunschweig’s consolation in the 89th came from Kevin Kratz, though his effort from Mirko Boland’s corner took a deflection off Robert Lewandowski.
Monaco cruised to a 4-1 victory over 10-man Montpellier in the French league on Sunday following a hat trick from Emmanuel Riviere.
Radamel Falcao gave Monaco a deserved lead from the penalty spot in the 18th minute after Lucas Ocampos was fouled by Siaka Tiene.