By JUSTIN FERGUSON
For new Barcelona winger Neymar, 2013 keeps getting better and better.
The 21-year-old Brazilian, who scored key goals for his home country’s run to the Confederations Cup title this summer, made a memorable El Clasico debut Saturday with a goal and an assist in Barcelona’s 2-1 home victory against Real Madrid.
In a highly anticipated match that featured Clasico debuts from both managers and Real Madrid’s world-record signing Gareth Bale, Neymar took the spotlight early with a 19th-minute strike past visiting goalkeeper Diego Lopez. An hour later, Neymar setup an important goal from substitute Alexis. The Chilean’s extraordinary chipped goal was enough to secure the three points over a feisty Real Madrid side, which pulled one back in stoppage time through young forward Jese.
While Neymar was the hero for his new Spanish club on Saturday, Spanish forward Fernando Torres was the hero for his English club on Sunday. Torres notched a key assist and his first English Premier League goal of the season for Chelsea, a 90th-minute winner in the Blues’ 2-1 home win against Manchester City. After City striker Sergio Aguero’s second-half equalizer erased the Chelsea lead earned by Andre Schurrle’s opener, Torres took advantage of some miscommunication between goalkeeper Joe Hart and defender Matija Nastasic to put away the winning goal for the second-place hosts.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Third-place Liverpool extended their unbeaten run to four matches Saturday in a 4-1 home victory against West Bromwich Albion. Striker Luis Suarez recorded a superb hat trick in the first 55 minutes of the match against the Baggies, and fellow attacker Daniel Sturridge continued his hot start to the season with a 77th-minute chip of goalkeeper Boaz Myhill. Suarez’s hat trick doubled his season total to six goals in just four EPL matches, while Sturridge maintained the top spot in the early Golden Boot race with his eighth goal in nine league matches.
Manchester United were a little more than a dozen minutes away from their worst loss of the young David Moyes Era when Wayne Rooney and substitute Javier Hernandez headed the Red Devils to a 3-2 comeback home victory against 17th-place Stoke City. Peter Crouch and Marko Arnautovic’s first-half goals gave the Potters a dream 2-1 lead at Old Trafford, but Rooney’s 78th minute header off a Robin van Persie corner saved the hosts from losing at home to Stoke for the first time since 1976. Two minutes after the equalizer, Patrice Evra’s cross found the head of Hernandez, who netted his first Man United goal since last season’s finale.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Arsenal 2, Crystal Palace 0
Everton 2, Aston Villa 0
Liverpool 4, West Bromwich Albion 1
Manchester United 3, Stoke City 2
Norwich City 0, Cardiff City 0
Southampton 2, Fulham 0
Sunderland 2, Newcastle United 1
Chelsea 2, Manchester City 1
Swansea City 0, West Ham United 0
Tottenham Hotspur 1, Hull City 0
Fourth-place Villarreal rebounded from last weekend’s loss to Athletic Bilbao and maintained their unbeaten home record Sunday with a 4-1 drubbing of rivals Valencia. Mexican forward Giovani Dos Santos led the way for the Yellow Submarine, scoring two goals and assisting another in the win. Dos Santos’s two second-half goals turned what was a tense affair at El Madrigal into a huge win for last season’s second division champions, who are now just two points behind Real Madrid for third place in La Liga.
Atletico Madrid bounced back from their first loss of the season in style Sunday, routing Real Betis 5-0 at the Vicente Calderon. Eighteen-year-old midfielder Oliver Torres marked his first start with a goal inside the first minute of play, and veteran David Villa added two more goals for Atletico in the space of five minutes early in the second half. Diego Costa netted his 11th goal of the season minutes later for the second-place club, who ended the wild evening of scoring with a stoppage-time goal from Gabi.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Celta Vigo 5, Malaga 0
Barcelona 2, Real Madrid 1
Granada 1, Elche 0
Levante 3, Espanyol 0
Sevilla 2, Osasuna 1
Villarreal 4, Valencia 1
Real Sociedad 3, Almeria 0
Atletico Madrid 5, Real Betis 0
After losing both Bundesliga editions of the Rivierderby last season to rivals Schalke 04, second-place Borussia Dortmund recorded a 3-1 road win at the Veltins Arena to maintain their position behind league leaders Bayern Munich. Summer signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 14th minute, and teammate Nuri Sahin made Schalke pay for a penalty miss at the half-hour mark with a 51st-minute goal of his own. Maximilian Meyer pulled one back for the hosts in the 62nd minute, but Dortmund substitute Jakub Blaszczkowski sealed the rivalry victory with a strike 12 minutes later.
Bayern came from behind on fourth-place Hertha Berlin and held onto a 3-2 victory Saturday at the Allianz Arena. Adrian Ramos’s 4th-minute header gave the visitors a surprising lead, but Bayern responded with a Mario Mandzukic brace and Mario Gotze’s first Bundesliga goal since his departure from Dortmund over the summer. Although Anis Ben-Hatira’s goal in the 58th minute made for a stressful final half-hour for the hosts, Bayern kept their lead and their perfect home record intact.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Bayer Leverkusen 2, Hoffenheim 1
Bayern Munich 4, Mainz 1
Borussia Dortmund 1, Hannover 0
Eintracht Frankfurt 1, Nurnberg 1
Schalke 3, Eintracht Braunschweig 2
Werder Bremen 0, Freiburg 0
Hertha Berlin 1, Borussia Monchengladbach 0
Hamburg 3, Stuttgart 3
Wolfsburg 2, Augsburg 1
American midfielder Michael Bradley marked his return to action for AS Roma with an 82nd-minute goal that gave his team a dramatic 1-0 road victory against Udinese. Roma played down a man after the 66th minute due to defender Maicon’s second yellow card, and Udinese came close to snatching the lead on several occasions. The league leaders were on their way to their first dropped points of the season, but Bradley came off the bench and found the top corner of Zeljko Brkic’s goal for the late winner.
AC Milan’s dismal start to the season continued with a gutting 3-2 road loss to eighth-place Parma on Sunday. Milan rallied back from an early 2-0 deficit thanks to a quick double from Alessandro Matri and Matias Silvestre just after the hour mark. However, Parma’s Marco Parolo netted a free kick deep into second-half stoppage time to hand the Rossoneri their fourth loss of the campaign. The result pushed Parma into the top half of the Serie A table, while Milan slumped to 10th place in the league.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Sampdoria 1, Atalanta 0
Inter Milan 4, Hellas Verona 2
Napoli 2, Torino 0
Bologna 1, Livorno 0
Catania 0, Sassuolo 0
Fiorentina 2, Chievo Verona 1
Juventus 2, Genoa 1
Parma 3, AC Milan 2
AS Roma 1, Udinese 0
Lazio 2, Cagliari 0
Second-place AS Monaco drew level on points with league leaders Paris Saint-Germain after Sunday’s 2-1 win against struggling Lyon. Mounir Obaddi scored in the 28th minute to give Monaco the early lead, which was doubled eight minutes later off a goal from superstar forward Radamel Falcao. Bafetemi Gomis pulled one back for the visitors just after the hour mark, and Lyon’s attack made the Monaco defense work hard for the win in the final minutes of the match at the Stade Louis II.
Paris Saint-Germain rallied to record a 2-2 draw in final Ligue 1 match of the weekend, a visit to Saint Etienne for the defending champions. Benjamin Corgnet and Romain Hamouma gave the hosts a 2-0 lead just minutes into the second half, but Edinson Cavani gave the champions hope of holding onto the top spot with his 68th-minute goal. Later, in the third minute of stoppage time, midfielder Blaise Matuidi saved PSG from defeat with an equalizer from distance.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Lille 1, Nantes 0
Stade de Reims 3, Marseille 2
Bastia 1, Nice 0
Guingamp 2, Ajaccio 1
Lorient 2, Sochaux 1
Stade Rennes 5, Toulouse 0
Evian Thonon Gaillard 1, Valenciennes 0
Bordeaux 2, Montpellier 0
AS Monaco 2, Lyon 1
Saint Etienne 2, Paris Saint-Germain 2
What do you think of this weekend’s European league action? Impressed with Neymar’s performance in his first El Clasico? See Real Madrid catching back up with Barcelona this season? Which other performances from Europe caught your eye this weekend?
Share your thoughts below.