MADRID: Pedro Rodriguez’s spectacular first-half goal led Barcelona to a 1-0 win over Almeria to maintain the Spanish champions’ unbeaten start to the season.
Pedro took a pass from Maxwell at the top of the area in the 31st before swiveling to fire a hard shot beyond goalkeeper Diego Alves into the far top corner. Barcelona — missing Thierry Henry for the second straight game — recorded their sixth consecutive win to reach 18 points, three more than Real Madrid.
Goalkeeper David de Gea helped Atletico Madrid to their first victory of the season in a nervy 2-1 win over Zaragoza. The teenager, who was making his debut, stopped a penalty and made a fine save late in the game to prevent Atletico from starting the season winless in six games for the first time.
Diego Colotto scored from a corner in the 60th as Deportivo La Coruna beat Tenerife 1-0 for the Galician club to join third-place Sevilla on 12 points.
Almeria’s bruising play early on drew the ire of the Camp Nou crowd but did little to disrupt Barcelona’s possession, with the Catalans spending much of the game inside its opponent’s half but only managing seven shots on goal. “We tried to take the game inside to (Lionel) Messi but we couldn’t make that extra pass,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.
Pedro was unlucky not to score in the 18th after volleying Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s floating cross on goal, as Alves got his foot out to deflect it off the post. A minute later, Xavi headed Daniel Alves’ cross over with no one but the Almeria goalkeeper to beat.
Xavi tested Alves after the start of the second half and the Brazil goalkeeper did well to get a hand out in the 77th to deny Ibrahimovic’s low shot. The Sweden striker, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, had scored in each of Barcelona’s first five games. Cesar Rodriguez is the only other Barcelona player to manage that feat — during the 1950-51 season. Barcelona’s defense, which was without the injured Dmytro Chygrynskiy, did not allow Almeria a single shot on goal.
At the Vicente Calderon, Jose Manuel Jurado slotted a loose ball inside the area past goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo to open the scoring after two minutes. Goalkeeper De Gea, filling in for regular Sergio Asenjo who is away on Under-20 World Cup duty with Spain, tripped up Jorge Lopez inside the area to concede a 20th-minute penalty. But the 18-year-old saved Marko Babic’s spotkick diving to his left.
Diego Forlan had a number of chances from long-range before Antonio Lopez scored with a free kick in the 66th. But Zaragoza provided a nervy ending when substitute Ewerthon scored a 71st-minute penalty after Tomas Ujfalusi was booked for a challenge on Javier Arizmendi inside the area.