Benitez's Real held at Gijon in La Liga opener

MADRID: Rafa Benitez suffered an embarrassing setback in his first La Liga outing in charge of Real Madrid when they were held to a 0-0 draw at promoted Sporting Gijon in their opening match of the season on Sunday.

Real's expensively assembled squad, including FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive player, could not find a way past Gijon's determined defence at the Molinon.

The hosts -- whose resources are a fraction of those of their illustrious visitors -- also created chances and when Arnaldo Sanabria headed against the underside of the crossbar in the first half, television replays showed it may have just crossed the goalline.

Champions Barca earlier secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Athletic Bilbao in their opening match of the campaign, with the game settled by a fine Luis Suarez volley in the 54th minute after Lionel Messi had a penalty saved in the first half.