La Liga 2012, Week 2: Mistakes, Teenagers Dominate Opening Salvo

Mistakes, and another teenager, dominated the first set of games in Week 2 in Spain, as Zaragoza--a side that I don't think I've ever picked to win--stole three important points off of Espanyol thanks to two catastrophic mistakes, and Rayo Vallecano won a thriller thanks to 19 year-old Leo.

Real Sociedad 2-1 Celta

Sociedad locked up their first points of the season by coming from behind against a brash Celta Vigo side that never gave up, despite being outclassed for much of the match. The first half ended with a lucky Celta side begging for the whistle--la Real had hit the posts and the crossbar various times right before the break, and seemed to be seconds away from scoring, particularly in the 16th minute, when Agirretxe hit the post with a low shot, the ball ricocheted to Ansotegi, who slammed it off the crossbar. The second half saw more of the same from la Real, though Celta managed to grab the lead on 49': De Lucas finished off a brilliant little combination in the center of the pitch. They kept pressing to extend their lead, but maybe should have considered defending a bit--la Real scored to even the score within five minutes. They finished off their well-deserved win five minutes after that, when Agirretxe sliced past Vela to slot the ball home.

Espanyol 1-2 Real Zaragoza

Real Zaragoza is not the best team in the Liga; in fact, they might be the farthest team in the tournament from the best team. But that doesn't mean that they--as Marca eloquently put it "aren't a first division team": when they're given free goals, they will still (almost always) take them. And that's what made their win against Espanyol a little less mind-boggling: they were not the better side. They were not even close to better; but they are still professionals. So when Espanyol scored towards the end of the first half to take the lead, it seemed like things were over; but when defender Albín literally grabbed a shot by Helder Postiga with his hands in the area, when he already had a yellow card, well, this is a real team, not a group of beer league amateurs. Suddenly, Zaragoza was tied at 1 and up a man. They would culminate the game in the 89th minute, courtesy of Postiga, the best player on the night.

Real Betis 1-2 Rayo Vallecano

Last week, a 16 year-old became the youngest player to score in the history of the Liga. This week, a 19 year-old further cemented the idea that soccer in Spain is a young man's game: Leo guided his Rayo side to a tough victory in Sevilla against Real Betis by setting up his side's first goal, then scoring the winner in the 62nd minute. Rayo surprised everyone, coming out gunning against a Betis side that was clearly off balance, and their main offensive weapon was young Leo.

Who is not Messi, as Marca pointed out around 13028424173 times. My response:

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via i1169.photobucket.com

Málaga 1-1 Mallorca

Málaga just can't catch a break right now. Well, they kinda can, with their 16 year-old striker winning them one game. But when things are bad it takes a lot more than one awesome kid to put them on the right track. Tonight was no exception, as just when things were looking up, the whistle ended things. Hemed, Primera's pichichi so far (how long does that last?) put the visitors ahead, but the Malagueños rallied to tie, and were just inches--seconds, really--from running out with a hard-fought victory...but their last-ditch attempts just would not fall. It's going to be a long road back to top-tier relevancy for Málaga, but they do seem to be fighting.

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