Star-studded champions Barcelona slumped to an embarrassing 2-0 home defeat at the hands of minnows Hercules on Saturday while Jose Mourinho savoured his first win in charge of Real Madrid.
Paraguayan forward Nelson Haedo Valdez, signed from Borussia Dortmund, had a day to treasure scoring his first Hercules goal on 26 minutes and then another on 58 minutes as Barcelona crashed to a shock defeat against a side who have returned to the top flight after a 13-year absence.
Barcelona went the whole season unbeaten at home in the last campaign and this was their first home defeat in the league since May 23, 2009 when they lost to Osasuna having already won the title.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who must pick his side up for Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Panathinaikos at Camp Nou, refused to make excuses for the Hercules setback.
“There have always been international breaks and we didn’t fail to win because of that,” said Guardiola.
“I see how the players work every day and I don’t have any doubts about this team.”
Guardiola handed a league debut to Argentina captain Javier Mascherano, his 22-million-euro signing from Liverpool, and rested Spanish World Cup winners Xavi, Sergi Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez.
Despite Barcelona dominating proceedings it was underdogs Hercules who struck first with a well-worked set-piece.
Roysten Drenthe, on loan from Real Madrid, floated in a free-kick which Barcelona defended poorly and Valdez was allowed to bundle the ball home.
Centre-back Gerard Pique then had two chances to equalise with his head while Villa curled a shot over the bar.
At half-time Barcelona trailed 1-0 to the dismay of the home fans and Guardiola responded with a double substitution with Xavi on for debutant Mascherano and Pedro replacing Bojan.
The substitutes combined immediately with Pedro cutting the ball back for Xavi who fired over on the volley.
An equaliser looked on the cards but close to the hour mark Tiago Gomes did well down right and found Valdez who fired into the top corner for a second Hercules goal.
Real boss Mourinho had Portuguese compatriot Ricardo Carvalho to thank for scoring the decisive goal in the 1-0 win over Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The 32-year-old Carvalho scored his first goal in Madrid colours on 48 minutes to ensure a winning home debut for Mourinho following a disappointing 0-0 draw at Real Mallorca on the opening day of the campaign.
Carvalho, who has played for Mourinho at FC Porto, Chelsea and now Real, had a simple tap-in for the winning goal after being set-up by Cristiano Ronaldo. The victory takes Real a point above champions Barcelona.
Mourinho made four changes to the starting line-up against Mallorca handing first league starts to German internationals Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
Superstar Ronaldo was expected to be out for another fortnight with an ankle injury but the Portuguese winger made a miraculous recovery to start in attack.
Ronaldo had the first real opening of the match on 20 minutes latching on to a pass from the lively Ozil but his low shot was well saved.
A flat goalless first half saw jeers at the half-time whistle from the unhappy home fans.
However, three minutes after the break, Real gave Mourinho his first goal as coac.
Karim Benzema crossed for Ronaldo who looked certain to score but goalkeeper Ricardo blocked well.
Ronaldo reacted quickly, however, to poke the ball to Carvalho for an easy tap-in.
The goal repaid the faith from Mourinho who signed Carvalho for Chelsea in 2004 before recruiting him for Madrid this summer for eight million euros.
Real stepped it up after the break and Higuain was denied in a one-on-one by Ricardo on 65 minutes before Ozil, who was given a standing ovation when he came off, went close with a clever chip 60 seconds later.
Real must now prepare for Wednesday’s Champions League group opener against Ajax at the Bernabeu as they go for a 10th European Cup.
Valencia moved to the top of the table on a maximum six points following a 1-0 win over Racing Santander at the Mestalla Stadium.
Dutch defender Hedwiges Maduro headed the winner on 47 minutes as Valencia replaced Atletico Madrid at the summit.
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