Minnows Hercules pulled off the biggest win in their history downing reigning champions Barcelona 2-0 at Camp Nou on Saturday with Paraguayan forward Nelson Haedo Valdez scoring a brace in a dream debut.
Barcelona went the whole season unbeaten at home last season as they retained the league title.
However, promoted Hercules – back in the top-flight after a 13-year absence – caused a huge upset with a sensational win over the double champions on their own turf.
Debutant 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 in only their second league game of the season.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola refused to blame the recent international matches for his team’s failure and backed his troops to bounce back.
“There have always been international breaks and we didn’t fail to win because of that,” said Guardiola.
“We weren’t ourselves today. They scored and started the second half well and we didn’t really have an answer.
“However, I see how the players work every day and I don’t have any doubts about this team.”
The loss means arch rivals Real Madrid, on one point after an opening day draw at Real Mallorca, can leapfrog the champions, on three points, if they can beat Osasuna at home later on Saturday.
Barcelona must forget the defeat quickly as they are back at Camp Nou on Tuesday for their first Champions League group match against Panathinaikos.
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.
Hercules had a few familiar faces, notably veteran French striker David Trezeguet, now 32, who made his debut following a surprise move from Juventus.
After nine minutes Bojan Krkic should have scored for Barca but fluffed his attempt.
A nice touch from David Villa released left back Maxwell who centred for Bojan but the striker mistimed his flicked effort.
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.
Elsewhere 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.
Later on Saturday Jose Mourinho makes his managerial home debut as his Real Madrid side look for their first win of the season against Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real opened with a disappointing 0-0 draw at Real Mallorca and the home fans will hope for an improved display against an Osasuna side managed by former Real player Jose Antonio Camacho.
In Saturday’s other match Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao face off at San Mames aiming to build on opening day wins.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!