Real Madrid top Betis; Barcelona thrash Sevilla

Sports Desk, Sep 3 (EFE).- Just four games into the 2022-2023 LaLiga season, all the signs are pointing to an epic title race between holders Real Madrid and a remodeled Barcelona led by two-time European Golden Boot Robert Lewandowski.

With a 2-1 win over third-place Real Betis, the Blancos have taken 12 points from 12 and lead LaLiga by 2 points over their archrivals, who pounded struggling Sevilla 3-0.

Atletico Madrid, the only club other than Real Madrid or Barcelona to have won the Spanish top-flight in the last two decades, fought to a 1-1 draw Saturday with Real Sociedad.

The Colchoneros and Sociedad are both on seven points, along with Athletic, Villarreal and Celta.

Hosting Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Blancos went ahead in the 9th minute with a stylish goal by Vinicius Jr. and the picture grew even bleaker for the visitors two minutes later when midfielder Nabil Fekir left with an injury.

But Betis evened the score in the 17th minute, courtesy of former Real Madrid man Sergio Canales.

Vini fired over the cross-bar on a chance for a second goal and Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva made a tremendous stop against Aurelien Tchouameni to keep it 1-1 at the break.

The Blancos’ Thibaut Courtois made a pair of saves early in the second half and the hosts retook the lead in the 65th minute, as Rodrygo Goes beat Silva from close range.

In San Sebastian, visiting Atletico likewise struck first. Yannick Carrasco’s corner hit the bottom of the post and Sociedad keeper Alex Remiro failed to control it, creating an easy tap-in for Alvaro Morata.

The striker made it 2-0 in the 29th minute, but the goal was ultimately disallowed after a four-minute-long VAR review that detected a hand ball by Atleti’s Joao Felix.

Umar Sadiq, brought in by Sociedad to replace Alexander Isak, equalized in the 55th minute, connecting with a cross from Mohamed-Ali Cho.

Sadiq found the back of the net again in the 77th minute, only to see the offside flag go up.

Sevilla, with just a point from the first three games, made a creditable start Saturday against the high-flying visitors, yet the Blaugrana took command with Raphinha’s goal in the 21st minute.

Lewandowski extended the lead in the 36th minute with the fifth goal of his maiden campaign in LaLiga.

Eric Garcia added a third goal early in the second half and the final score would have been even more lopsided if not for some solid saves by Sevilla keeper Bono and some poor finishing by Barcelona shooters. EFE rmm/dr

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